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Author Topic: Flowers in the Attic
CJ
The Red and the Green Stamps


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I figured the language board would probably be the best one for this topic...

I have read that the novel "Flowers in the Attic" by V.C. Andrews is actually based on a true story, but I have never been able to find any actual proof that it is or isn't. It doesn't have that little blurb saying "This is a work of fiction...." but it is published as a fictional novel. Does anyone know anything about this?

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Bug Muldoon
The "Was on Sale" Song


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This source says it's based on a true story. I'm still looking for a more - euhm - reputable one.

quote:
a shocking novel based on a true story


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Syllavus
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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From what I know it's entirely fictional, I never heard of it ever being based on anything true. But if you read the majority of V.C. Andrews' novels, they all have the same themes of abandonment and incest, even the ones she wrote ten years after her death. [Roll Eyes] But with that in mind, it seems likely that her ideas were fictional since her themes repeat in so many of her books. I think Ms. Andrews had some weird fascinations. [Eek!]

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Bug Muldoon
The "Was on Sale" Song


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quote:
Is Flowers in the Attic based on a true story?

There is no evidence that proves that Flowers in the Attic was based on a true story. It is suspected that Virginia used her own life experiences in her novels. She has admitted that a few incidents are autobiographical, but she is not willing to disclose which pieces. She has also used experiences of friends, family, and her own dreams and memories. Popular and literary fiction also influenced her writing.

From here

So maybe parts of it are true ... but it's indeed a work of fiction. I stand corrected.

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CJ
The Red and the Green Stamps


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The books that were written after her death were unpublished maniscripts and ideas for books that she was planning on writing, her family hired a ghost writer and took her ideas and partially written novels and wrote them out in a style similar to her own. You may notice that the newest ones are quite different now than the ones from the 80's and 90's.

I don't know, I just know there are a lot of rumours floating around that only the fisrt one was loosely based on a true story, the rest are fictional (and the rest say inside that they are works of fiction)...

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Mouse
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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I can't believe anyone would think Flowers in the Attic was based on a true story. I've read it before and I was laughing outloud at the ludicrous plot twists. It's trash literature. Trash literature is like potato chips, good to have every now and then but don't make it a major part of your diet.

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Astra
The "Was on Sale" Song


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I never read the book, although it was popular in elementary school with my classmates. I thought it was just another goofy kiddie romance from the title and cover image.

I only found out what it was really about a couple of years ago. I still can't believe that my teacher felt the need to make sure my parents knew I was reading "Are You There God, It's Me Again, Margaret" while my classmates were reading "Flowers In the Attic" without interference. There's just something bizarre about that.

"Sorry, 10 is too young to be reading about menstruation. Have a nice book on steamy incest instead."

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Jay Temple
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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I haven't read either of those books, so I don't know whether Flowers is about an incestuous love affair or about sexual abuse. If the former, the rest of this post is not relevant to this discussion. If the latter, it makes me think of the disclaimer at the beginning of certain "very special episodes" of TV shows that have kids in their audience. If a kid is being molested, this episode could assure him that what's happening is not okay and give him the courage to tell someone. FOR GOD'S SAKE, DON'T TIP OFF THE ABUSER!

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Red Squirrel
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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I hope "Flowers In The Attic" is a fictional account because I could not stand the ending (which I won't spoil!).

There are some things that didn't strike me as at all realsitic (i.e. the twins heads growing but not their bodies- wouldn't the first sign of that sort of captivity be jaundice?).

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Sister Ray
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Jay Temple:
I haven't read either of those books, so I don't know whether Flowers is about an incestuous love affair or about sexual abuse.

The former mostly. I don't want to get into detail because it's frankly disgusting.

I think you can get all the vitamins to prevent jaundice without the sun. I don't get the not growing bit, though - it's said in the book they take vitamins, and the food they get seems repetitive, but you could live and grow on it.

I have to admit I read all four books. Kind of embarassing really. I'll be the first one to say they were trashy, but they were kind of fun (if the first book lacked two plot twists, I would have to admit to actually liking it) in a way. I also read that book that wasn't part of a series. Isn't that all the real author wrote - just the first four books and the other one I mentioned (forget the title)?

Sister "or should I ask?" Ray

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Red Squirrel
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by Jay Temple:
whether Flowers is about an incestuous love affair or about sexual abuse.

In short- the brother rapes the sister.

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The Sqizzle formally known as Lexi

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Sister Ray
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Lexi Pie In The Sky:
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Temple:
whether Flowers is about an incestuous love affair or about sexual abuse.

In short- the brother rapes the sister.
It gets more complicated after that. But like I said, it's frankly disgusting.

Sister "and I'm admitting to have read these?" Ray

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plain-TALKing Yorkshire Woman
Harshmallow World


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quote:
Originally posted by Sister Ray:
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Temple:
I haven't read either of those books, so I don't know whether Flowers is about an incestuous love affair or about sexual abuse.

The former mostly. I don't want to get into detail because it's frankly disgusting.

I think you can get all the vitamins to prevent jaundice without the sun. I don't get the not growing bit, though - it's said in the book they take vitamins, and the food they get seems repetitive, but you could live and grow on it.

I have to admit I read all four books. Kind of embarassing really. I'll be the first one to say they were trashy, but they were kind of fun (if the first book lacked two plot twists, I would have to admit to actually liking it) in a way. I also read that book that wasn't part of a series. Isn't that all the real author wrote - just the first four books and the other one I mentioned (forget the title)?

Sister "or should I ask?" Ray

I read these books (and, I am ashamed to admit, other titles by her) many years ago, and realised that I disliked the repetitiveness of the themes of incest and abuse.

A huge plot nitpick for me was (as mentioned above) the "stunted body growth", yet, the sister in the tale manages to become a tall elegant ballerina despite the fact that she is a) supposedly stunted and disproportionate, and b) theoretically too old for classical ballet training when they escape from the grandma's home as they are approx 16/17 when they get away.

I remember vividly a comment made in the text of the book by the girl's tutor about her being exceptionally well formed, and how the cords of her neck and limbs are particularly long and elegant. (especially in the context that the plot says that they were malnourished enough for the younger twins to die, and that they had little access to exercise opportunities, so I'd expect their mobility to be affected by atrophied muscles)

I also take issue with one of the later books in the Flowers series, where the brother and sister are in their thirties or forties. They have kids of their own, and there seems to be some hint that their teenage children are repeating the incestuous relationship scenario.

I know, each to their own tastes whether it be in film, book or tv etc, but I really didn't rate the Andrews books, personally.

Andrews' work is far too formulaic, it's like a "painting by numbers" in word form, and the repetitiveness of the plots both within the series and across the whole of her work just bores me.

Talk

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Hell's Granny
Xboxing Day


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quote:
Originally posted by Lexi Pie In The Sky:
There are some things that didn't strike me as at all realsitic (i.e. the twins heads growing but not their bodies- wouldn't the first sign of that sort of captivity be jaundice?).

No, not jaundice - that's a disease of the liver and/or blood. You're thinking of rickets, which is caused by lack of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is produced naturally by sunlight on the skin, and is needed for healthy bone development and the absorption of calcium. Children bought up without sunlight would need constant vitamin supplements to prevent calcium loss and bone deformities.
With the supplements, they should grow normally; however, the lack of exercise caused by lifelong confinement would mean that muscle growth overall, and bone growth and bone strength in the limbs, would be stunted. So the "Flowers In The Attic" children would have turned out shorter than average, and physically weakened, but with heads not noticably out of proportion to their bodies.
That "huge head on a tiny body" detail was probably inspired by pictures of starving African babies and is caused by extreme chronic malnurition, which Andrew's children wouldn't have suffered from if they had regular food and supplements.
A 15/16 yr old girl bought up totally confined in that way wouldn't have the necessary strength and stamina for ballet training; by that age, she would have just about reached her full physical growth.

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Artemis
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Lexi Pie In The Sky:
In short- the brother rapes the sister.

I thought it was mutual? But then, it's been a really long time since I read the book.

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Christopher
Peruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town


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quote:
Originally posted by Artemis:
quote:
Originally posted by Lexi Pie In The Sky:
In short- the brother rapes the sister.

I thought it was mutual? But then, it's been a really long time since I read the book.
It was. The two were very much in love.

I too have to admit to having read these books, or at least the first three. They were something of a guilty pleasure. I tried other books by her but just didn't have the stomach for them. Kind of like certain chocolates that you eat a few of and think, "man, these are addicting" and then suddenly you can't even look at them any more.

[SPOILER ALERT: kind of]I enjoyed them on the whole, but there's no question the "plot twists" are pretty idiotic. The classic for me is the part in one of the books (damned if I can remember which) where the bad guy sets a house on fire and puts the unconscious girl inside so she will die, then she's pulled out by her brother who rushes off to capture the bad guy, but the bad guy comes around and drags her back into the burning house, then the brother comes around and drags her back out again. Whenever my wife and I see a particularly bad plot twist in a movie we call it a "Flowers In the Attic" moment.

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Magdalene
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by Artemis:
quote:
Originally posted by Lexi Pie In The Sky:
In short- the brother rapes the sister.

I thought it was mutual? But then, it's been a really long time since I read the book.
It was 'mutual' in the old bodice-ripper context--'hero rapes the heroine, but since deep down we all know he really really loves her, and she knows this too, it's all okay' sense. Feh.

I did read the "Flowers In The Attic" series. Major spoilers for those who didn't read "Seeds of Yesterday"--which is a book about the evil Grandmother as a young woman. The four children in FITA are the product of an incestous relationship--their parents were half-brother and half-sister. (The parents were unaware of that fact, but the Grandmother knew.) I always took that to be the reason why the twins were having development issues--and that the older children had just simply lucked out. Plus, the twins went into the attic when they were very young--I think perhaps five? And the older children were in their early teens. They spent about three years up in the attic, but that wound up being almost all of the twins' lives up to that point.

Magdalene

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Syllavus
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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^ Flowers in the Attic = Bonsai Kiddies?

Of course you have to remember that the kids weren't really "confined" that's to say, they weren't stuck in a small room for years and years. The attic they had access to was in a mansion and supposedly covered the whole length of the house, so although confined, they had plenty of space to run around in. They even talk in the books about the little ones riding tricycles, swinging, playing hide and go seek, all in the attic. They also went up on the roof sometimes so they did get sunlight exposure, albeit not much.

Also you have to take into account that Cathy WAS training herself for ballet during her entire confinement. So it wasn't like she popped out of the attic a total novice and then became a ballet star. I guess with all that time to spend stuck up in an attic why NOT train yourself in ballet?

I'm ashamed that I know all this. [Roll Eyes]

V.C. Andrew's books I put in the same category as reality television: it does entertain in a crude way but after a while the repetitiveness and formulaicness (is that a word?) kind of makes you sick. [Razz]

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Syllavus
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Oh stunted big-headed waffles.

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Thera
I Saw Three Shipments


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I read this series too, and I can add to some of the points here.

The children were also being poisoned with arsenic. That is why one of the younger twins died, and why the other one was always sickly later. That girl, who was the twin of the boy who died, basically pined away for her twin and died too later on.

(Edit, Syllavus already covered that point.)

I read the books all the way up to when the older siblings are living together and have children -- but those children are not the product of incest, the sister flatly refused. The children were the result of affairs, one with the new husband of her mother, and the other I forgot. The kids were screwed up in the head though, from what I recall. Both boys though.

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Sister Ray
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Thera:


I read the books all the way up to when the older siblings are living together and have children -- but those children are not the product of incest, the sister flatly refused. The children were the result of affairs, one with the new husband of her mother, and the other I forgot. The kids were screwed up in the head though, from what I recall. Both boys though.

No, I think one was a child of a real marriage. The husband died before the child was born though. You're right about the second one.

I don't think the brother and sister ever wanted children, at least not from each other. The second book hints at some problem that prevents the girl from having more children, but the third book says something about sterilization (I assumed a hysterectomy of some sort). They seemed to be weirdly drawn to each other. I could honestly never tell if this was supposed to be a "good" thing in the eyes of the reader or just another tragedy from being confined. As for the whole consenuality thing, the two had had several very sexual moments before in the book. There's something in there about how she could have stopped him if she really wanted to, but I can't remember exactly what.

The arsinic thing was only near the end of the first book, so that wouldn't have much effect on development.

Sister "can't believe I know all this either" Ray

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Red Squirrel
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by Christopher in the library:
quote:
Originally posted by Artemis:
quote:
Originally posted by Lexi Pie In The Sky:
In short- the brother rapes the sister.

I thought it was mutual? But then, it's been a really long time since I read the book.
It was. The two were very much in love.

From what I remember (I took my copy to the charity shop a while ago) the brother leaps onto the girl into the attic and says something like "you're mine Cathy" and holds her down. Does anyone have the book to quote from?

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The Sqizzle formally known as Lexi

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CJ
The Red and the Green Stamps


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I don't have the quote from the book, but you are right, he holds her down, and it seems like rape at first, but then Cathy thinks to herself (i can't remember if it was during or just after) that she could have pushed him off if she wanted to... something about her strong legs and she could have made him stop if she wanted to...

As for her becoming a perfectly formed ballerina and all that... remember that it is only the first book that is supposedly based on a true story, the rest are all fiction, so they don't have to be quite as believable... also, it's supposed to be "loosely based" so she may have taken a real story and just added other things in, such as the misshaped twins...

Someone said something about Carrie (the surviving twin) pining away and dying.. she dies from eating donuts that she puts arsenic on herself, because she can't stand to live without her brother.

Cathy's first son, Jory, is from her husband, Julian, the dancer... Bart is from her mother's husband, and then she adopts a daughter in the 3rd book... only Bart is screwed up in the head, Jory is ok. Chris and Cathy have no kids together. For the most part Cathy tries to get into normal relationships with people who aren't her brother (though she does sleep with both her step-father and her adopted father, but Julian was a step in the right direction with absolutely no familliar relation to Cathy, even though he was an asshole). But in the end "fate" seems to keep Chris and Cathy together.

I loved these books and all the V.C. Andrews books, I'm not ashamed. [Smile] Though I am also addicted to Days of Our Lives, so I guess overly predictable sordid romance stories with insane plot twists are just my cup of tea, regardless of how trashy they might be... (though, I do read non-trash too, don't get me wrong!).

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plain-TALKing Yorkshire Woman
Harshmallow World


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Thanks, folks, the comments made by a couple of you, particularly in refence to the prequel, "Seeds Of Yesterday", have clarified something for me.

I think I must have gotten the idea that Cathy's kids were the product of an incesuous relationship by mixing up the plots of the "S-O-Y" book with FITA etc.

I realise that in fiction, your plot can turn any which way you will, but as I said earlier, the polts got sillier and sillier, and more inconguous, in the FITA series.

I was not keen on the other series, either:-

where the log-cabin-in-the-boondocks-family (the Brandywines?)has a daugher who has a baby that's adopted by some reverend wise and his wife.

Oh, yes; and the other book, where the little girl is drugged, in order to wipe out memories of a sexual assault.

Talk

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Don't be an ignoranus:- an ignoranus is someone who is both stupid, and an ars*hole!

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Holly Golightly
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by Lexi Pie In The Sky:
quote:
Originally posted by Christopher in the library:
quote:
Originally posted by Artemis:
quote:
Originally posted by Lexi Pie In The Sky:
In short- the brother rapes the sister.

I thought it was mutual? But then, it's been a really long time since I read the book.
It was. The two were very much in love.

From what I remember (I took my copy to the charity shop a while ago) the brother leaps onto the girl into the attic and says something like "you're mine Cathy" and holds her down. Does anyone have the book to quote from?
I re-read FITA this summer and the book is still under my desk.

quote:
You're mine, Cathy! Mine! You'll always be mine! No matter who comes into your future, you'll always belong to me! I'll make you mine...tonight...now!
quote:
We fell to the floor, both of us, I tried to fight him off.
quote:
And I loved him. I wanted what he wanted - if he wanted it that much, right or wrong
quote:
He didn't have to say he was sorry...it was all over him...the way he quivered, the way his hands trembled and were so clumsy with his buttons.
I've always seen it as a rape, with Cathy merely trying to justify her borthers actions because she loves and admires him. The way abused children sometimes protect their abuser and justify their actions because they love them, or think they do.

Holly

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Magdalene
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by A plain-TALK-ing Yorkshirewoman TM:
Oh, yes; and the other book, where the little girl is drugged, in order to wipe out memories of a sexual assault.

Talk

This sounds like it could be "My Sweet Audrina"? She was raped at nine by other nine-year-olds (which struck me as a little way-out-there itself), then her entire family got in on the plot to make her 'forget' the rape and screwed with her head by drugging her and confusing time and such on her. (Telling her it was Tuesday, for example, then telling her an hour later it was Friday.) That was just one *weird* book, but for once V.C. Andrews didn't work the 'incest' angle.

Magdalene

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Christopher
Peruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town


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quote:
Originally posted by CJ:
[...] only Bart is screwed up in the head,[...]

Now why does that seem familiar? [Big Grin]

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"Nothing is so firmly believed as what we least know." ~ Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

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plain-TALKing Yorkshire Woman
Harshmallow World


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quote:
Originally posted by Magdalene:
quote:
Originally posted by A plain-TALK-ing Yorkshirewoman TM:
Oh, yes; and the other book, where the little girl is drugged, in order to wipe out memories of a sexual assault.

Talk

This sounds like it could be "My Sweet Audrina"? She was raped at nine by other nine-year-olds (which struck me as a little way-out-there itself), then her entire family got in on the plot to make her 'forget' the rape and screwed with her head by drugging her and confusing time and such on her. (Telling her it was Tuesday, for example, then telling her an hour later it was Friday.) That was just one *weird* book, but for once V.C. Andrews didn't work the 'incest' angle.

Magdalene

Bingo! That's the very one! Thank you!

I agree that it was a weird one, but she just had to bring in something "dodgy" and "supposedly shameful", didn't she?

I wonder if she had some sort of fixation with incest/rape. It certainly doesn't seem "healthy" that all her books had this "darkness" about the subject matter.


Talk

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...Can you tell tripe from truth?

Don't be an ignoranus:- an ignoranus is someone who is both stupid, and an ars*hole!

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Sister Ray
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Magdalene:
quote:
Originally posted by A plain-TALK-ing Yorkshirewoman TM:
Oh, yes; and the other book, where the little girl is drugged, in order to wipe out memories of a sexual assault.

Talk

This sounds like it could be "My Sweet Audrina"? She was raped at nine by other nine-year-olds (which struck me as a little way-out-there itself), then her entire family got in on the plot to make her 'forget' the rape and screwed with her head by drugging her and confusing time and such on her. (Telling her it was Tuesday, for example, then telling her an hour later it was Friday.) That was just one *weird* book, but for once V.C. Andrews didn't work the 'incest' angle.

Magdalene

That's the other book I read! I agree it was one weird book (since we've spoiled most of the book already, I'll just add to it). They try to mess with her mind because they want her to forget, and concoct a tale of some other daughter with the same name that had something happen and died, to try to explain the little she does remember. The screwing with time thing was so she could "grow up," - since she didn't remember anything from all this but a few fragments, they rushed her from about four to ten (the age she actually was) in about a year. I thought the other kids were older though.

I will admit, despite it being a weird book, at least it was unique, and I actually will admit to liking this one, maybe just because it wasn't like anything else I'd ever read.

Sister "freaky, but unique!" Ray

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The Organization. Adam Haseeb Memorial Pages. My library.

"There can't be a war on Christmas. Even Cambridge has decorations up!" - an observation I made

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trollface
The Bills of St. Mary's


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Hmmm, kind of sounds like I might have a fun day reading one of these books (although I couldn't stand the film). Lexi, I have to know; what happens in the end? Please?

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seriously , everyone on here , just trys to give someone crap about something they do !! , its shitting me to tears.

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Oden
The Red and the Green Stamps


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I think alot of the reason that people believe it is based on a true story, is that in the beginning of the book ( I think it's the prologue) That V.C. Andrews says " I Hope This Book Hurts Thoses That It's Meant To Hurt".
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Angelwings
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Which book was that in? FITA or My Sweet Audrina? I've read FITA and I don't recall any prologue like that ... wow.
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CJ
The Red and the Green Stamps


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From the prologue of "Flowers in the Attic":

"...in this work of 'fiction' I will hide myself away behind a false name, and live in fake places, and I will pray to God that those who should will hurt when they read what I have to say. Certainly God in his infinite mercy will see that some understanding publisher will put my words in a book, and heko grind the knife that I hope to wield"...

I really liked "My Sweet Audrina", really twisted book... it's was eletric shocks they gave her though, to make her forget... Audrian starts the book thinking she is 7.

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Thera
I Saw Three Shipments


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Thanks for clearing that up about Carrie. I had forgotten she deliberately killed herself, but I do recall that she was never really healthy and did pine away... I always did like the name Jory, it was the only name I remembered from any of those books until everyone started naming the characters.

I read My Sweet Audrina too, and the one called Heaven, which also bordered on incest, by having the half-brother extremely close to the main character, in a way that put me off. Also, the father was attracted to her because she resembled her mother. All the other children were from a different mother.

Anyone read that one?

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Magdalene
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by CJ:
From the prologue of "Flowers in the Attic":

"...in this work of 'fiction' I will hide myself away behind a false name, and live in fake places, and I will pray to God that those who should will hurt when they read what I have to say. Certainly God in his infinite mercy will see that some understanding publisher will put my words in a book, and heko grind the knife that I hope to wield"...


I can't find my copy of FITA, but I think we, the readers, are meant to understand that prologue was written by Cathy, not V.C. Andrews, since in the series, Cathy wrote about her experiences.

Magdalene

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"Don't mess with me. I dance with swords."

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