‘Flowers in the Attic’ is a haunting tale based on a real life story ; four children named Cathy, Carrie, Chris and Cory Dollanganger are used to a perfect middle class life; they have a perfect mother and father both incredibly beautiful, smart and adored. They all have inherited the much loved crystal clear large blue eyes , long flaxen blonde hair and full lips that earned their family the nickname ‘ The Dresden Dolls’. However on the night of their fathers 30th birthday everything turns sour. With his unexpected death in a road accident and their mothers love for all things that an abundance of money can buy. They find themselves locked in an attic in the home of her mothers stone cold parents subjected to punishments they had never know to be possible. As their mother hides them away in waiting of her father’s forgiveness and writing into his will they slowly loose their once vibrant colours. They mature and learn the meaning of greed, betrayal and heartbreak as their mother slowly grows to hate and neglect them. As they finally learn the depth of their mother’s betrayals they decide to leave and to fend for themselves. Their once mother with a new husband, her fathers money and his estate after trying to slowly kill them with poisoned arsenic doughnuts leaves to live a much awaited life in the lap of luxury. As the children cope with Corey’s arsenic induced murder and plant the seeds of heartbreak that have been sown – how will they cope with life outside of the attic?
When I was browsing for a book to read the illustrations on the front cover (a large and menacing dark house and a black floral border) as well as an intriguing blurb capture my attention. As I always do I read the prologue and I was instantly drawn into the world that these fragile characters lived in. The continuous further fascinated me as I continued to read on for hours after I first came into possession of the book. I love motif of paper flowers in the novel. The children go into the attic as growing flowers that have a vibrant colour and vest for life. As the days drawn into weeks, moths and years they slowly faded and wilted into shadows of themselves. I felt that was very much captured in the phrase ‘paper flowers’ which I would change the title of the novel to. The characterisation of the starkly different characters is very revealing this novel gives us enough information to fully understand the characters and plot but also leaves enough unseen – left up to our imaginations. As the plot unfolds we are shocked time and time again by the extent of ruthless things that humans are capable of. We are tough to see the suspicion in everything and to see the world through the innocent and ever trusting eyes of young and fragile children. As the eyes grow old and weary we see that circumstance and paranoia force maturing and radical thinking. The way that the four main characters grow and change in the novel adds a sense of reality to the story and weaves us into its world. I strongly look forward to reading the second novel in the series ‘Petals in the Wind’ and wonder if it will have the same childlike charm and then adult like suspicion of this story.