As promised in my previous post about the Dollangangers, this post will be about my thoughts, feelings, and ideas while rereading the first two books in the Flowers in the Attic series.
Without further ado, I give you a bunch of random thoughts that I’ve had about this… highly disturbing series upon my recent read.
*The grandmother Olivia has had an impact on my view
of other grandparents and parents over the years. She was a religious nut and so whenever I’d encounter people who seemed to disapprove of me for my lack of religious background or what they deemed to be as “loose morals”, I’d totally label them as religious nuts. I bet it’s Olivia’s fault. Like when the parents told the boyfriend to dump me or move out of the house and he kept me a secret from them, they were Foxworth-level crazy in my eyes. When the grandparents met me and deemed me unworthy for their grandson because of the way I was dressed (I’d just gotten off work from Ruby Tuesday and I was wearing my uniform: a shirt, black pants, and black boots), I decided that they must be from the same bloodline as the wacko Foxworths. Somehow I managed to transfer my fear of the Foxworths onto ALL conservatives. Maybe the aforementioned deserved it (ha!) but it’s a real shame that I spent so many years being so terrified of Christians. I was scared of Christians before I read this series as a teen. Pretty sure this book just solidified in my mind how completely insane I already assumed Christians to be. This is a good place to be sometimes because it makes me more empathetic to people I meet, now, who think Christians aren’t playing with a full deck.
*What is with all of the rape? And how did I forget so much of it? I remembered Julian as being the rapey, violent maniac he was but Christopher? Bart? There is rape everywhere in this series. And for some reason I either blocked it out or I didn’t realize it was rape. So that reminds me… when the time comes… I need to make sure to talk to my kids about rape and all of the different ways that rape can look.
*This time around I feel more sympathy toward Corinne and Olivia. I know that sounds impossible. They are horrific humans. But it almost seems as if Malcolm has them under a spell. It’s terrifying how hypnotized these two women seem to be. I have a hard time not feeling like they are victims too.
*I can really relate to Cathy’s constant need to attract and seduce men. Her entire identity, much like that of her mother’s, seems to center around the compulsion to make men want her. There was a time in my life when I was like that. If a man liked me easily, he wasn’t worth having.
*Except for the whole Bart thing. I cannot relate to that. To me, that is the grossest relationship in the entire series. Just the thought of trying to seduce a man who is married to my own mother makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t care what happened to the Dollanganger children… it’s still wicked what she ends up doing to Bart.
*One thought that always stuck with me from my first read was how brave I felt the kids were to leave Foxworth Hall on their own. I guess that tells you the kind of childhood I had. I was never given any independence so the very idea of a group of kids making it on their own sounded insane to me. Now, though, I can’t believe they stayed locked in that attic as long as they did. I keep thinking of my own kids and figuring they would have fared much better in a similar situation.
*Reading the details of how the twins whither away while Corinne and Olivia pay no mind, as a mother, is terrifying to me now. None of that really seemed to register when I read it the first time around. But now? Oh my. I just cannot fathom. It broke my heart.
*The image of the twins drinking Chris’s blood was so seared into my subconscious that when I was reading the book, before I ever got to that part, I had a dream about that scene. I woke up so disturbed. I was stunned when I reread it. My conscious didn’t recall it happening… but my subconscious certainly did.
*Another scene I’d totally blocked out was the one where Cathy pays Olivia a visit after she was already grown and had started having an affair with Bart. I had no recollection about her beating the grandmother and then trying to give her medical aid. Ugh. So disturbing. And now those images are in my mind and haunting me.
*I think the only characters I don’t hate are Paul and Henny. It’s strange to me that Andrews chose to make Henny mute. I can’t help but wonder why.
*Cathy’s relationship with Paul seemed weird to me when I was a teen but now it seems totally natural. Sure, they have many years between them but their love seemed the most authentic, pure, and healthy of any relationship in either book. It’s no longer gross to me. I hated to see their ending be so tragic.
*I’m furious with Cathy for leaving Carrie. And I’m furious with everyone for somehow missing that Carrie was in so much trouble. She seemed to constantly be an afterthought. It infuriated me to see her be so neglected. She deserved so much better.
*Finally, I have to talk about it. The… incest. For whatever reason, it didn’t freak me out as much this time around. I’m not rooting for Cathy and Chris exactly but I guess maybe now I sorta get it. And I think it makes sense that they can’t move past one another. It’s hard to move past a relationship sealed by tragedy. I know this from personal experience.
And that’s it for now. I’m looking forward to getting a hold of a copy of If There Be Thorns. It’s on hold at the library. Waiting stinks.