Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

V. C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic is a painful account of four children’s attempt to survive in a family that despises their existence. Although the author stated numerous times that the novel is fiction, the rumor persists that it is based on a true story—a comment noted in the British edition of Flowers in the Attic published by Fontana. Perhaps the rumor persists because, written in the first person, this novel presents itself as a fictionalized rewriting of journal entries kept by the protagonist and published under an assumed name, Cathy Dollanganger, in order to shame the family that humiliated and imprisoned her and her siblings Christopher, Carrie, and Cory.

Their parents, Corrine and the elder Christopher, were half uncle and half niece, and they defied their wealthy family’s wishes in order to marry and have a family. Although they were initially successful at maintaining a life distant from their past troubles, Corrine convinced her husband to live beyond their means—that having luxuries was a necessity. After the elder Christopher is killed in a car accident, Corrine is left with many debts and no means to pay. She turns to her parents for help, assuming that she will be able to win them over in spite of her earlier defiance. Unfortunately, accepting her parents’ help means that she must deny the children she had during her marriage. Her father, a highly hypocritical man, will cut Corrine off from a considerable...

(The entire section is 514 words.)