Flowers in the Attic

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Aug 2, 2005 - Fiction - 389 pages
100 Reviews
"The four Dollanganger children had such perfect lives -- a beautiful mother, a doting father, a lovely home. Then Daddy was killed in a car accident, and Momma could no longer support the family. So she began writing letters to her parents, her millionaire parents, whom the children had never heard of before. Momma tells the children all about their rich grandparents, and how Chris and Cathy and the twins will live like princes and princesses in their grandparents' fancy mansion. The children are only too delighted by the prospect. But there are a few things that Momma hasn't told them. She hasn't told them that their grandmother considers them "devil's spawn" who should never have been born. She hasn't told them that she has to hide them from their grandfather if she wants to inherit his fortune. She hasn't told them that they are to be locked away in an abandoned wing of the house with only the dark, airless attic to play in. But, Momma promises, it's only for a few days.... Then the days stretch into months, and the months into years. Desperately isolated, terrified of their grandmother, and increasingly convinced that their mother no longer cares about them, Chris and Cathy become all things to the twins and to each other. They cling to their love as their only hope, their only strength -- a love that is almost stronger than death."--Publisher's website.
 

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User Review  - bekkil1977 - LibraryThing

I always thought of it as lighthearted trash, but it was actually a lot better than I remembered it to be. I actually cried at some parts. I can't imagine anyone not knowing the plot, but here goes ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - anacskie - LibraryThing

This book was recommended to me by a friend. Got to admit, I thought this book was crazy and there are parts of this book that I really don't like. But I cried reading about what these 4 young and ... Read full review

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Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
5
Section 3
35
Section 4
50
Section 5
62
Section 6
80
Section 7
89
Section 8
106
Section 14
221
Section 15
245
Section 16
255
Section 17
264
Section 18
271
Section 19
291
Section 20
324
Section 21
342

Section 9
120
Section 10
152
Section 11
182
Section 12
193
Section 13
205
Section 22
357
Section 23
375
Section 24
391
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Prologue

It is so appropriate to color hope yellow, like that sun we seldom saw. And as I begin to copy from the old memorandum journals that I kept for so long, a title comes as if inspired. Open the Window and Stand in the Sunshine. Yet, I hesitate to name our story that for I think of us more as flowers in the attic. Paper flowers. Born so brightly colored, and fading duller through all those long, grim, dreary, nightmarish days when we were held prisoners of hope, and kept captives by greed. But, we were never to color even one of our paper blossoms yellow.

Charles Dickens would often start his novels with the birth of the protagonist and, being a favorite author of both mine and Chris''s, I would duplicate his style -- if I could. But he was a genius born to write without difficulty while I find every word I put down, I put down with tears, with bitter blood, with sour gall, well mixed and blended with shame and guilt. I thought I would never feel ashamed or guilty, that these were burdens for others to bear. Years have passed and I am older and wiser now, accepting, too. The tempest of rage that once stormed within me has simmered down so I can write, I hope, with truth and with less hatred and prejudice than would have been the case a few years ago.

So, like Charles Dickens, 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 help grind the knife that I hope to wield.

Chapter 1: Goodbye, Daddy

Truly, when I was very young, way back in the Fifties, I believed all of life would be like one long and perfect summer day. After all, it did start out that way. There''s not much I can say about our earliest childhood except that it was very good, and for that, I should be everlastingly grateful. We weren''t rich, we weren''t poor. If we lacked some necessity, I couldn''t name it; if we had luxuries, I couldn''t name those, either, without comparing what we had to what others had, and nobody had more or less in our middle-class neighborhood. In other words, short and simple, we were just ordinary, run-of-the-mill children.

Our daddy was a P.R. man for a large computer manufacturing firm located in Gladstone, Pennsylvania: population, 12,602. He was a huge success, our father, for often his boss dined with us, and bragged about the job Daddy seemed to perform so well. "It''s that all-Amarican, wholesome, devastatingly good-looking face and charming manner that does them in. Great God in heaven, Chris, what sensible person could resist a fella like you?"

Heartily, I agreed with that. Our father was perfect. He stood six feet two, weighed 180 pounds, and his hair was thick and flaxen blond, and waved just enough to be perfect; his eyes were cerulean blue and they sparkled with laughter, with his great zest for living and having fun. His nose was straight and neither too long nor too narrow, nor too thick. He played tennis and golf like a pro and swam so much he kept a suntan all through the year. He was always dashing off on airplanes to California, to Florida, to Arizona, or to Hawaii, or even abroad on business, while we were left at home in the care of our mother.

When he came through the front door late on Friday afternoons -- every Friday afternoon (he said he couldn''t bear to be separated from us for longer than five days) -- even if it were raining or snowing, the sun shone when he beamed his broad, happy smile on us.

His booming greeting rang out as soon as he put down his suitcase and briefcase. "Come greet me with kisses if you love me!"

Somewhere near the front door, my brother and I would be hiding, and after he''d called out his greeting, we''d dash out from behind a chair or the sofa to crash into his wide open arms, which seized us up at once and held us close, and he warmed our lips with his kisses. Fridays -- they were the best days of all, for they brought Daddy home to us again. In his suit pockets he carried small gifts for us; in his suitcases he stored the larger ones to dole out after he greeted our mother, who would hang back and wait patiently until he had done with us.

And after we had our little gifts from his pockets, Christopher and I would back off to watch Momma drift slowly forward her lips curved in a welcoming smile that lit up our father''s eyes and he''d take her in his arms and stare down into her face as if he hadn''t seen her for at least a year.

On Fridays, Momma spent half the day in the beauty parlor having her hair shampooed and set and her fingernails polished, and then she''d come home to take a long bath in perfumed-oiled water. I''d perch in her dressing room, and wait to watch her emerge in a filmy negligee. She''d sit at her dressing table to meticulously apply makeup. And I, so eager to learn, drank in everything she did to turn herself from just a pretty woman into a creature so ravishingly beautiful she didn''t look real. The most amazing part of this was our father thought she didn''t wear makeup! He believed she was naturally a striking beauty.

Love was a word lavished about in our home. "Do you love me? -- For I most certainly love you; did you miss me? -- Are you glad I''m home? -- Did you think about me when I was gone? Every night? Did you toss and turn and wish I were beside you, holding you close? For if you didn''t, Corrine, I might want to die."

Momma knew exactly how to answer questions like these -- with her eyes, with soft whispers and with kisses.

One day Christopher and I came speeding home from school with the wintery wind blowing us through the front door. "Take off your boots in the foyer," Momma called out from the living room, where I could see her sitting before the fireplace knitting a little white sweater fit for a doll to wear. I thought it was a Christmas gift for me, for one of my dolls.

"And kick off your shoes before you come in here," she added.

We shed our boots and heavy coats and hoods in the foyer, then raced in stockinged feet into the living room, with its plush white carpet. That pastel room, decorated to flatter our mother''s fair beauty, was off limits for us most of the time. This was our company room, our mother''s room, and never could we feel really comfortable on the apricot brocade sofa or the cut-velvet chairs. We preferred Daddy''s room, with its dark paneled walls and tough plaid sofa, where we could wallow and fight and never fear we were damaging anything.

"It''s freezing outside, Momma!" I said breathlessly as I fell at her feet, thrusting my legs toward the fire. "But the ride home on our bikes was just beautiful. All the trees are sparkled with diamond icicles, and crystal prisms on the shrubs. It''s a fairyland out there, Momma. I wouldn''t live down south where it never snows, for anything!"

Christopher did not talk about the weather and its freezing beauty. He was two years and five months my senior and he was far wiser than I; I know that now. He warmed his icy feet as I did, but he stared up at Momma''s face, a worried frown drawing his dark brows together.

I glanced up at her, too, wondering what he saw that made him show such concern. She was knitting at a fast and skilled pace, glancing from time to time at instructions.

"Momma, are you feeling all right?" he asked.

"Yes, of course," she answered, giving him a soft, sweet smile.

"You look tired to me."

She laid aside the tiny sweater. "I visited my doctor today," she said, leaning forward to caress Christopher''s rosy cold cheek.

"Momma!" he cried, taking alarm. "Are you sick?"

She chuckled softly, then ran her long, slim fingers through his tousled blond curls. "Christopher Dollanganger, you know better than that. I''ve seen you looking at me with suspicious thoughts in your head." She caught his hand, and one of mine, and placed them both on her bulging middle.

"Do you feel anything?" she asked, that secret, pleased look on her face again.

Quickly, Christopher snatched his hand away as his face turned blood-red. But I left my hand where it was, wondering, waiting.

"What do you feel, Cathy?"

Beneath my hand, under her clothes, something weird was going on. Little faint movements quivered her flesh. I lifted my head and stared up in her face, and to this day, I can still recall how lovely she looked, like a Raphael madonna.

"Momma, your lunch is moving around, or else you have gas." Laughter made her blue eyes sparkle, and she told me to guess again.

Her voice was sweet and concerned as she told us her news. "Darlings, I''m going to have a baby in early May. In fact when I visited my doctor today, he said he heard two heartbeats. So that means I am going to have twins...or, God forbid, triplets. Not even your father knows this yet, so don''t tell him until I have a chance."

Stunned, I threw Christopher a look to see how he was taking this. He seemed bemused, and still embarrassed. I looked again at her lovely firelit face. Then I jumped up, and raced for my room!

I hurled myself face down on my bed, and bawled, really let go! Babies -- two or more! I was the baby! I didn''t want any little whining, crying babies coming along to take my place! I sobbed and beat at the pillows, wanting to hurt something, if not someone. Then I sat up and thought about running away.

Someone rapped softly on my closed and locked door. "C

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