Flowers in the Attic by V.C. AndrewsFlowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

Flowers in the Attic

byV.C. Andrews

Paperback | January 7, 2014

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about

Now a major Lifetime movie event—the classic story of forbidden love that captured the world’s imagination and earned V.C. Andrews a fiercely devoted fanbase. Book One of the Dollanganger family saga.

At the top of the stairs there are four secrets hidden. Blond, beautiful, innocent, and struggling to stay alive . . .

They were a perfect family, golden and carefree—until a heartbreaking tragedy shattered their happiness. Now, for the sake of an inheritance that will ensure their future, the children must be hidden away out of sight, as if they never existed. Kept on the top floor of their grandmother’s vast mansion, their loving mother assures them it will be just for a little while. But as brutal days swell into agonizing months and years, Cathy, Chris, and twins Cory and Carrie, realize their survival is at the mercy of their cruel and superstitious grandmother . . . and this cramped and helpless world may be the only one they ever know.

Book One of the Dollanganger series, the sequels include Petals in the Wind, If There Be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, and Garden of Shadows. Then experience the attic from Christopher’s point of view in Christopher’s Diary: Secrets of Foxworth and Christopher’s Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger.
Born on June 6, 1924 in Portsmouth, Va., Virginia Cleo Andrews was one of three children of William Henry and Lillian Lilnora. Her father was a career Navy man who later opened a tool-and-die business and her mother was a telephone operator. As a child, Andrews read voraciously and also excelled in art. At the age of fifteen, she won a...
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Title:Flowers in the AtticFormat:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 8.25 × 5.31 × 1.1 inPublished:January 7, 2014Publisher:Gallery BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1476775850

ISBN - 13:9781476775852

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved the book This book was different from what I have ever read. It made me wanting more
Date published: 2017-10-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Classic that needs to make a come back! I love JC Andrews writing style and this crazy story... about the <flowers< aka children, hidden away in the attic. And how they flourish.... I love that idea that if someone puts something in their head, no matter if they don't have the right training .... if they train themselves can accomplish anything (ballerina daughter). I just loved this! The characters stay w you and you think about them until you open the book again and find out what's happening!
Date published: 2017-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Classic Always reread this classic and watch the movies
Date published: 2017-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved Read this as a teenager, really enjoyed it.
Date published: 2017-08-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Read This was the first V.C. Andrews novel I read and I went on to read the rest of the novels originally written by her because it was so good.
Date published: 2017-07-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty great! It's a pretty messed up story so if you like that you'll probably like this
Date published: 2017-07-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Terrifying First of all, this was a first read for me. Yeah, I'm a little behind the times. I had a few spoilers and so I built up the grossness of the story so much, that when it actually happened, it wasn't too bad. It was pretty glossed over (thank you Andrews). I was expecting worse. That being said, this book is pretty twisted and Andrews made me as paranoid as the children locked in the attic.
Date published: 2017-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favorite V.C. Andrews Read all her books in my teen years. Now my daughter is reading them. This book is so sad, so terrifying, so heart wrenching. & the ultimate betrayal! I'll read it again now & I know I'll love it just as much as I did at 16!!
Date published: 2017-05-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Favourite in teen years Flowers in the Attic started my love for V.C. Andrews back in my hish school years and is the start of my favourite series by her.
Date published: 2017-05-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful read One of the original books she wrote before her death, now the books out are ghost writers and just don't cut it as this one does
Date published: 2017-05-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favorite series I have always been a fan of V.C. Andrews and her twisted tales of incest and forbidden love but this was by far my favorite series ... it had it all. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-05-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this book I love VC Andrews but this had to be my favourite series
Date published: 2017-04-30
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not my cup of tea This was one of the first "grown up" novels I ever read. I understand that it is meant to be dark and twisted but I think it's just a little too twisty for me!
Date published: 2017-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Twisted and Awesome I love this book. It's a dark and twisted story but an amazing book.
Date published: 2017-04-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good series A good read. Still can't believe it is a young adults series. Lots of drama and secrets. All generations of my family have read this (grandma, mom, daughter). Definitely recommend.
Date published: 2017-04-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from classic one of my all time favourite books.
Date published: 2017-04-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Unexpectedly love this novel! I read this book without having a clue of what it was about. Once I began to read it I surprisingly liked it despite the taboo concepts present in the novel. Definatley a must read!
Date published: 2017-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love this series This book is very dark and twisted. I read it over 25 years ago and just read it again and still enjoyed it. It holds up over time
Date published: 2017-04-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Twisted VC Andrews is good at writing twisted tales, but there are some lines you don't cross. The way she portrays the incestuous relationship between the brother and sister, not to mention the parents is just wrong. The only part that really got me was when it was discovered the mother was poisoning them and the one sibling died.
Date published: 2017-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really good I loved the series, very interesting, dark and disturbing
Date published: 2017-03-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from This book is absolute crap Only giving one star because I can't give less. I have no idea what the author was thinking and I never thought I would have such a dislike for a book before but this is the classical "damsel in distress" and the "needs a man or has no idea what to do with herself". Please save your money for something better.
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read Rereading this book 30+ years later. Loved the series when I was a teenager; reading it now as an adult, I found it sad, very well written and still couldn't put it down - even though I knew what was going to happen.
Date published: 2017-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read A great beginning to another VC Andrews saga
Date published: 2017-02-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good! Very disturbing, but well-written book!
Date published: 2017-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from All-time favorite book It is extremely well written and is so intriguing. I couldn't put it down, and I even read it twice! I keep telling people to read this book.
Date published: 2017-01-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Reading this is strange and creepy yet I couldn't stop! Can't wait to read the next one..
Date published: 2017-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mixed Up. I have many mixed emotions about this book, it was beautifully written, it was strange, gripping, suspenseful. I couldn't stop reading and I want to know what happens next!
Date published: 2016-12-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Sad, disturbing, creepy, impossible to put down A tragic story that is equal parts sad and creepy. the descriptions and narration are enticing and illuminating making this novel impossible to put down!
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Disturbingly Good! Such a good book but very dark and pretty disturbing... My jaw dropped every couple pages! #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Flowers in the Attic An interesting read that is creepy at times. It is definitely entertaining.
Date published: 2016-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great great book series. Have all of v.c Andrews books.
Date published: 2016-11-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good This is a good book, but I feel like it could have been some 75 pages shorter around the middle, because it got awfully repetitive and not much was happening. The plot is great though! I will be reading the next book in the series.
Date published: 2015-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Longtime fan Read it as a teen and still a big fan to this day! As a teen it's theme of mother-daughter relationships was completely relatable to me. The book transported me to an extreme world where that relationship was strongly tested. Now as a mother myself, I can relate to how the mother must have felt in the beginning of the novel, doing her best with limited options available to her.
Date published: 2015-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Riveting A dark but intriguing story. Enjoyed every minute
Date published: 2014-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Flowers in the Attic. Great book. Much better than the movies. I read the series a long time ago. I'm enjoying it even more the second time around.
Date published: 2014-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Flowers in the Attic Can't wait to read the rest of the series!
Date published: 2014-01-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Flowers in the Attic as a mother, to me this book was heart-breaking and slightly disturbing but kept my attention throughout the entire book. will definitely be reading the rest of the series. a tad on the far-fetched side but none the less, a good fictional story.
Date published: 2014-01-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Flowers in the Attic I read this when it first came out; in later years,I dismissed it as sensationalized crap. A few days ago, I decided to reread and, although it really is not high literature, it has something that many of those critic-lauded tomes do not...you are absolutely compelled to keep reading. Even though I knew what was coming, I devoured this book because it is readable. Having said that, I must comment that the language style was off-putting to me. It is written in a curiously old-fashioned language style that was stilted and interfered with the flow. This style was inconsistent with the time period it was portraying. My copy also had spelling mistakes that you think after 30+ years of publication, would have been fixed. For the reason that I had to keep reading, I give this book three stars!
Date published: 2014-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I have watched the movie and let me just say, its unbelieveingly amazing!!!!
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Flowers in the attic I really love this story
Date published: 2014-01-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Flowers in the attic A very difficult book to put down.
Date published: 2013-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book It is a book you can read over again.
Date published: 2013-08-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Creepy page-turner Flowers in the Attic is dark, depressing, creepy, haunting, disturbing and so many other things. But it was written in such a way that I couldn't stop reading. Its a story that is hard to forget
Date published: 2010-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Page Turner This book.......... you just have to read it ok! It is so good.I have read the seris dust in the summer.
Date published: 2009-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Compelling! This book will suck you in with its twisted plot and unbelievable turns! The Dollanganger children suffer through incredible odds just to survive another day!
Date published: 2009-04-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Captivating This book takes you deep into the minds of four children who are locked away in an attic by their mother, with promises of letting them out "soon". You follow the story of Cathy, Chris, Carrie and Cory as they struggle to survive with no contact with the outside world. While there are dark parts of the book, it makes a great read. One of my favourite VC Andrews series. One thing is for sure - I'm glad my mother and grandmother are nothing like the ones in these books!
Date published: 2008-06-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stunning. This book is beyond amazing. It is dark, twisted, yet shows the sickness and depravity of the human psyche. It shows the lengths one will go for money. This book is absolutely captivating, once I started reading I couldn't put it down. It is truly beautiful, with an amazing storyline and it is written extremely well.
Date published: 2008-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully horrifying Yes, beautiful. The word does not even capture the hopeful-turned-hopeless longing, the desperation, the disturbing love cycle, the vengeance that V.C. Andrews was able to weave in this old goodie that never gets old. This is the start of a series that leaves you completely breathless, secretly hoping for the children's welfare, but knowing they won't get an ounce of it. A perfect read on a thunderstruck night.
Date published: 2008-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply Amazing! <3 Amazingly written from start to finish, keeping me hooked from the first word. My personal favourite of V.C. Andrews novels. She truly knows how to make you feel what those poor four children feel. A story that I can read over and over again, and never tire of! &lt;3
Date published: 2007-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The only story that really stayed with me I read this novel when I was in high school and have never been able to put the visions of these children out of my head. It was my first thriller, and to this day not one writer has captured me like V.C.Andrews.
Date published: 2007-05-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Captivating and Dark I have enjoyed the readings of "Flowers in the Attic" though at times it makes the reader realize that there is and always will be a darker side to life. VC Andrews keeps you intensily invloved in each character and the lives they live.
Date published: 2006-08-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Chilling Read After hearing so much about this author, I decided to pick up her very first book. It absolutely captivated me with it's continuing horrors. I wanted to scream at the book! Definitely a great read for anyone who's looking for something different - and I mean different.
Date published: 2006-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from FAB this book is so addictingly amazingly great i couldnt out it down i ever brought it on a feild trip and read it because i couldent take a day without it
Date published: 2006-06-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absoutley addicting This book is addicting, its that good. Once i read this book i had to read all of them in this series. If you're looking to start a series or just read a book that leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat then this is the book for you! And V.C Andrews is known to have many series, so if you like these books, check out her other books, although since she past away her family has hired a ghost writer to continue writing her amazing books.
Date published: 2005-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My first Book This was the first book I read in my life, I was 13 years old, still today, after almost 15 years, I remeber evey detail with joy. Great story from start to finish, it won't even take you three days to finish it just because you wouldn't want to stop reading it. I cried, got worried, laughed and experienced a great rollecoaster of emotions. I recommend this book, you won't regret it at all.
Date published: 2005-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellent This was one of her best books yet. It was great and had tons of chilling twists.
Date published: 2005-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible I have read this whole series, except for the last book which my friend is letting me borrow after Christmas. I think that all of the books are written exceptionally well, and V.C. Andrews knows how to draw in readers and make them not want to stop reading til the end. You smile with the joys, and you cry with the tragedies. Incredible books.
Date published: 2003-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Off The Edge!! When i was given the book, i didn't think it would all that Great but i started to read it and i was overwhelmed by every thing!! The only thing i regret is not reading this book sooner!!
Date published: 2002-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The best thing V.C. Andrews ever wrote! Flowers in the Attic is a very dark, very twisted, awesome work of fiction. You can really connect with the characters and feel sympathy for four children whose mother doesn't care about them.
Date published: 2002-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome!!!!! The most awesome book in the world!!! Best seller!! Awesome book!!! I could read it over and over! It's my favourite book! Let others read it. Everyone I know loves it!!!!
Date published: 2002-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The best book EVER!!!! This book was the best book I have ever read!It's even better than Harry Potter! I think this book should go outin theaters and people I know says the same thing.I would advise it go into a best seller for the SECOND time! yours trully Tiffany R .p.s, when I am older I intend to be the worlds best writter.....besides V. C Andrews!!!!!!!
Date published: 2002-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING!!!!! I thought this book was absolutely amazing. I started reading it and COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN! I think any teenager or adult would enjoy this book and the rest of the series which I am looking forward to reading.
Date published: 2002-01-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Snazzy This was an extremely captivating book. It was very different from anything else I have ever read. &quot;Floweres In the Attic&quot; was twisted, yet beautifully written. I really liked this book, and would recommend it to anyone.
Date published: 2001-04-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awsome !! THIS BOOK IS A MUST! YOU KEEP READING AND DON'T WANT TO STOP! FINDING OUT WHAT HAPPENED IN THE TRAGEDY IS REALLY WORTH WHILE!!
Date published: 2001-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Flowers in the Attic This story is amazing! It is the best book V.C. Andrews ever wrote! If you like a book with everything in it read this book!
Date published: 2000-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fantastic book! I really enjoyed the book, I thought it was terrifying, and sad. The story is about a seilfish mother who locks her four innocent children away in the attic of Foxworth Hall, they are left to starve, and die. I read it when my family was traveling to Saskatoon and I spent twelve hours of traveling in the car the time flew past by reading! I could not put the book down! It was INCREADABLE! I really advise you to read it, it is a very unforgetable novel. You will not be able to put it down!
Date published: 2000-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from EXCELLENT BOOK The first time I read this book I enjoyed it but I thought the story was a little on the strange and unusual side. But now I look and I see that the writer has such a deep and interesting imagination and if people look closely at the world today, they'll see that worse things go on.
Date published: 2000-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from EXCELLENT BOOK The first time I read this book I enjoyed it but I thought the story was a little on the strange and unusual side. But now I look and I see that the writer has such a deep and interesting imagination and if people look closely at the world today they'll see that worse things go on.
Date published: 2000-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superior Novel! Flowers in the Attic, by V.C. Andrews is an exciting novel that expressed the lonliness of four children locked in one room with only the attic to play in for a period of over three years. The suspense, sadness, and horror of the story held me in suspense throughout the entire book. I couldn't put the book down. I was constantly smiling, laughing and crying feeling everything that young Cathy and her siblings were feeling. An amazing novel that I suggest to everyone I meet! I did not want the novel to end and when I found out there were continuations, I went to get them all and was happy to find that they were all just as wonderful.
Date published: 2000-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hooked!! This is the book that started it all. After I read this book, I instantly became a V.C Andrews fan. This book was so intense and full of emotion that i couldn't put it down! Great, as are all her other preceeding this!
Date published: 2000-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW!!! This book was one of my favourite books that I have read.V.C. Andrews is my favourite Author and she knows how to keep you reading. This book is Horror,Suspence and is breath taking all at the same time.I hope you enjoy it to.
Date published: 2000-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW!!! This book was one of my favourite books that I have read.V.C. Andrews is my favourite Author and she knows how to keep you reading. This book is Horror,Suspence and is breath taking all at the same time.I hope you enjoy it to.
Date published: 2000-07-10

Read from the Book

PrologueIt 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, DaddyTruly, 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. "Cathy," said my mother, "may I come in and talk this over with you?""Go away!" I yelled. "I already hate your babies!"Yes, I knew what was in store for me, the middle child, the one parents didn't care about. I'd be forgotten; there'd be no more Friday gifts. Daddy would think only of Momma, of Christopher, and those hateful babies that would displace me.My father came to me that evening, soon after he arrived home. I'd unlocked the door, just in case he wanted to see me. I stole a peek to see his face, for I loved him very much. He looked sad, and he carried a large box wrapped in silver foil, topped by a huge bow of pink satin."How's my Cathy been?" he asked softly, as I peeked from beneath my arm. "You didn't run to greet me when I came home. You haven't said hello; you haven't even looked at me. Cathy, it hurts when you don't run into my arms and give me kisses."I didn't say anything, but rolled over on my back to glare at him fiercely. Didn't he know I was supposed to be his favorite all his life through? Why did he and Momma have to go and send for more children? Weren't two enough?He sighed, then came to sit on the edge of my bed. "You know something? This is the first time in your life you have ever glared at me like that. This is the first Friday you haven't run to leap up into my arms. You may not believe this, but I don't really come alive until I come home on weekends."Pouting, I refused to be won over. He didn't need me now. He had his son, and now heaps of wailing babies on the way. I'd be forgotten in the multitude."You know something else," he began, closely watching me, "I used to believe, perhaps foolishly, that if I came home on Fridays, and didn't bring one single gift for you, or your brother, I still believed the two of you would have run for me like crazy, and welcomed me home, anyway. I believed you loved me and not my gifts. I mistakenly believed that I'd been a good father, and somehow I'd managed to win your love, and that you'd know you would always have a big place in my heart, even if your mother and I have a dozen children." He paused, sighed, and his blue eyes darkened. "I thought my Cathy knew she would still be my very special girl, because she was my first."I threw him an angry, hurt look. Then I choked, "But if Momma has another girl, you'll say the same thing to her!""Will I?""Yes," I sobbed, aching so badly I could scream from jealousy already. "You might even love her more than you do me, 'cause she'll be little and cuter.""I may love her as much, but I won't love her more." He held out his arms and I could resist no longer. I flung myself into his arms, and clung to him for dear life. "Ssh," he soothed as I cried. "Don't cry, don't feel jealous. You won't be loved any the less. And Cathy, real babies are much more fun than dolls. Your mother will have more than she can handle, so she's going to depend on you to help her. When I'm away from home, I'll feel better knowing your mother has a loving daughter who will do what she can to make life easier and better for all of us." His warm lips pressed against my teary check. "Come now, open your box, and tell me what you think of what's inside."First I had to smother his face with a dozen kisses and give him bear hugs to make up for the anxiety I'd put in his eyes. In the beautiful box was a silver music box made in England. The music played and a ballerina dressed in pink turned slowly around and around before a mirror. "It's a jewel box, as well," explained Daddy, slipping on my finger a tiny gold ring with a red stone he called a garnet. "The moment I saw that box, I knew you had to have it. And with this ring, I do vow to forever love my Cathy just a little bit more than any other daughter -- as long as she never says that to anyone but herself."There came a sunny Tuesday in May, when Daddy was home. For two weeks Daddy had been hanging around home, waiting for those babies to show up. Momma seemed irritable, uncomfortable, and Mrs. Bertha Simpson was in our kitchen, preparing our meals, and looking at Christopher and me with a smirky face. She was our most dependable baby-sitter. She lived next door, and was always saying Momma and Daddy looked more like brother and sister than husband and wife. She was a grim, grouchy sort of person who seldom had anything nice to say about anybody. And she was cooking cabbage. I hated cabbage.Around dinnertime, Daddy came rushing into the dining room to tell my brother and me that he was driving Momma to the hospital. "Now don't be worried. Everything will work out fine. Mind Mrs. Simpson, and do your homework, and maybe in a few hours you'll know if you have brothers or sisters...or one of each."He didn't return until the next morning. He was unshaven, tired looking, his suit rumpled, but he grinned at us happily. "Take a guess! Boys or girls?""Boys!" chimed up Christopher, who wanted two brothers he could teach to play ball. I wanted boys, too...no little girl to steal Daddy's affection from his first daughter."A boy and a girl," Daddy said proudly. "The prettiest little things you ever saw. Come, put your clothes on, and I'll drive you to see them yourselves."Sulkily, I went, still reluctant to look even when Daddy picked me up and held me high so I could peer through the nursery room glass at two little babies a nurse held in her arms. They were so tiny! Their heads were no bigger than small apples, and small red fists waved in the air. One was screaming like pins were sticking it."Ah," sighed Daddy, kissing my cheek and hugging me close, "God has been good to me, sending me another son and daughter as perfect as my first pair."I thought I would hate them both, especially the loud-mouthed one named Carrie, who wailed and bellowed ten times louder than the quiet one named Cory. It was nearly impossible to get a full night's rest with the two of them across the hall from my room. And yet, as they began to grow and smile, and their eyes lit up when I came in and lifted them, something warm and motherly replaced the green in my eyes. The first thing you knew, I was racing home to see them, to play with them, to change diapers and hold nursing bottles, and burp them on my shoulder. They were more fun than dolls.I soon learned that parents have room in their hearts for more than two children, and I had room in my heart to love them, too -- even Carrie, who was just as pretty as me, and maybe more so. They grew so quickly, like weeds, said Daddy, though Momma would often look at them with anxiety, for she said they were not growing as rapidly as Christopher and I had grown. This was laid before her doctor, who quickly assured her that often twins were smaller than single births."See," said Christopher, "doctors do know everything."Daddy looked up from the newspaper he was reading and smiled. "That's my son the doctor talking but nobody knows everything, Chris."Daddy was the only one who called my older brother Chris.We had a funny surname, the very devil to learn to spell. Dollanganger. Just because we were all blond, flaxon haired, with fair complexions (except Daddy, with his perpetual tan), Jim Johnston, Daddy's best friend, pinned on us a nickname, "The Dresden dolls." He said we looked like those fancy porcelain people who grace whatnot shelves and fireplace mantels. Soon everyone in our neighborhood was calling us the Dresden dolls; certainly it was easier to say than Dollanganger.When the twins were four, and Christopher was fourteen, and I had just turned twelve, there came a very special Friday. It was Daddy's thirty-sixth birthday and we were having a surprise party for him. Momma looked like a fairytale princess with her freshly washed and set hair. Her nails gleamed with pearly polish, her long formal gown was of softest aqua color, and her knotted string of pearls swayed as she glided from here to there, setting the table in the dining roorn so it would look perfect for Daddy's birthday party. His many gifts were piled high on the buffet. It was going to be a small, intimate party, just for our family and our closest friends."Cathy," said Momma, throwing me a quick look, "would you mind bathing the twins again for me? I gave them both baths before their naps, but as soon as they were up, they took off for the sandbox, and now they need another bath."I didn't mind. She looked far too fancy to give two dirty four-year-olds splashy baths that would ruin her hair, her nails, and her lovely dress."And when you finish with them, both you and Christopher jump in the tub and bathe, too, and put on that pretty new pink dress, Cathy, and curl your hair. And, Christopher, no blue jeans, please. I want you to put on a dress shirt and a tie, and wear that light blue sports jacket with your cream-colored trousers.""Aw, heck, Momma, I hate dressing up," he complained, scuffing his sneakers and scowling."Do as I say, Christopher, for your father. You know he does a lot for you; the least you can do is make him proud of his family."He grouched off, leaving me to run out to the back garden and fetch the twins, who immediately began to wail. "One bath a day is enough!" screamed Carrie. "We're already clean! Stop! We don't like soap! We don't like hair washings! Don't you do that to us gain, Cathy, or we'll tell Momma!""Hah!" I said. "Who do you think sent me out here to clean up two filthy little monsters? Good golly, how can the two of you get so dirty so quickly?"As soon as their naked skins hit the warm water, and the little yellow rubber ducks and rubber boats began to float, and they could splash all over me, they were content enough to be bathed, shampooed, and dressed in their very best clothes. For, after all, they were going to a party and, after all, this was Friday, and Daddy was coming home.First I dressed Cory in a pretty little white suit with short pants. Strangely enough, he was more apt to keep himself clean than his twin. Try as I would, I couldn't tame down that stubborn cowlick of his. It curled over to the right, like a cute pig's tail, and would you believe it? -- Carrie wanted her hair to do the same thing!When I had them both dressed, and looking like dolls come alive, I turned the twins over to Christopher with stern warnings to keep an ever observant eye on them. Now it was my turn to dress up.The twins wailed and complained while I hurriedly took a bath, washed my hair, and rolled it up on fat curlers. I peeked around the bathroom door to see Christopher trying his best to entertain them by reading to them from Mother Goose."Hey," said Christopher when I came out wearing my pink dress with the fluted ruffles, "you don't look half-bad.""Half-bad? Is that the best you can manage?""Best I can for a sister." He glanced at his watch, slammed the picture book closed, seized the twins by their dimpled hands and cried out, "Daddy will be, here any minute -- hurry, Cathy!"Five o'clock came and went, and though we waited and waited, we didn't see our father's green Cadillac turn into our curving drive The invited guests sat around and tried to keep up a cheerful conversation, as Momma got up and began to pace around nervously. Usually Daddy flung open the door at four, and sometimes even sooner.Seven o'clock, and still we were waiting.The wonderful meal Momma had spent so much time preparing was drying out from being too long in the warming oven. Seven was the time we usually put the twins to bed, and they wen growing hungry, sleepy and cross, demanding every second, "When is Daddy coming?"Their white clothes didn't look so virgin now. Carrie's smoothly waved hair began to curl up and look windblown. Cory's nose began to run, and repeatedly he wiped it on the back of his hand until I hurried over with a Kleenex to clean off his upper lip."Well, Corinne," joked Jim Johnston, "I guess Chris has found himself another super-broad."His wife threw him an angry look for saying something so tasteless.My stomach was growling, and I was beginning to feel as worried as Momma looked. She kept pacing back and forth, going to the wide picture window and staring out."Oh!" I cried, having caught sight of a car turning into our tree lined driveway, "maybe that's Daddy coming now!"But the car that drew to a stop before our front door was white, not green. And on the top was one of those spinning red lights. An emblem on the side of that white car read STATE POLICE.Momma smothered a cry when two policemen dressed in blue uniforms approached our front door and rang our doorbell.Momma seemed frozen. Her hand hovered near her throat; her heart came up and darkened her eyes. Something wild and frightening burgeoned in my heart just from watching her reactions.It was Tim Johnston who answered the door, and allowed the two state troopers to enter, glancing about uneasily, seeing, I'm sure, that this was an assembly gathered together for a birthday party. All they had to do was glance into the dining room and see the festive table, the balloons suspended from the chandelier, and the gifts on the buffet."Mrs. Christopher Garland Dollanganger?" inquired the older of the two officers as he looked from woman to woman.Our mother nodded slightly, stiffly. I drew nearer, as did Christopher. The twins were on the floor, playing with tiny cars, and they showed little interest in the unexpected arrival of police officers.The kindly looking uniformed man with the deep red face stepped closer to Momma. "Mrs. Dollanganger," he began in a flat voice that sent immediate panic into my heart, "we're terribly sorry, but there's been an accident on Greenfield Highway.""Oh..." breathed Momma, reaching to draw both Christopher and me against her sides. I could feel her quivering all over, just as I was. My eyes were magnetized by those brass buttons; I couldn't see anything else."Your husband was involved, Mrs. Dollanganger."A long sigh escaped from Momma's choked throat. She swayed and would have fallen if Chris and I hadn't been there to support her."We've already questioned motorists who witnessed the accident, and it wasn't your husband's fault, Mrs. Dollanganger," that voice continued on, without emotion. "According to the accounts, which we've recorded, there was a motorist driving a blue Ford weaving in and out of the lefthand lane, apparently drunk, and he crashed head-on into your husband's car. But it seems your husband must have seen the accident coming, for he swerved to avoid a head-on collision, but a piece of machinery had fallen from another car, or truck, and this kept him from completing his correct defensive driving maneuver, which would have saved his life. But as it was, your husband's much heavier car turned over several times, and still he might have survived, but an oncoming truck, unable to stop, crashed into his car, and again the Cadillac spun over...and then...it caught on fire."Never had a room full of people stilled so quickly. Even the young twins looked, up from their innocent play, and stared at the two troopers..."My husband?" whispered Momma, her voice so weak it was hardly audible. "He isn't...he isn't dead...?""Ma'am," said the red-faced officer very solemnly, "it pains me dreadfully to bring you bad news on what seems a special occasion." He faltered and glanced around with embarrassment "I'm terribly sorry, ma'am...everybody did what they could to get him out...but, well maam...he was, well, killed instantly, from what the doc says."Someone sitting on the sofa screamed.Momma didn't scream. Her eyes went bleak, dark, haunted. Despair washed the radiant color from her beautiful face; it resembled a death mask. I stared up at her, trying to tell her with my eyes that none of this could be true. Not Daddy! Not my daddy! He couldn't be dead...he couldn't be! Death was for old people, sick people...not for somebody as loved and needed, and young.Yet there was my mother with her gray face, her stark eyes, her hands wringing out the invisible wet cloths, and each second I watched, her eyes sank deeper into her skull.I began to cry."Ma'am, we've got a few things of his that were thrown out on the first impact. We saved what we could.""Go away!" I screamed at the officer. "Get out of here! It's not my daddy! I know it's not! He's stopped by a store to buy ice cream. He'll be coming in the door any minute! Get out of here!" I ran forward and beat on the officer's chest. He tried to hold me off, and Christopher came up and pulled me away."Please," said the trooper, "won't someone please help this child?"My mother's arms encircled my shoulders and drew me close to her side. People were murmuring in shocked voices, and whispering, and the food in the warming oven was beginning to smell burned.I waited for someone to come up and take my hand and say that God didn't ever take the life of a man like my father, yet no one came near me. Only Christopher came to put his arm about my waist, so we three were, in a huddle, Momma, Christopher, and me. It was Christopher who finally found a voice to speak and such a strange, husky voice: "Are you positive it was our father? If the green Cadillac caught on fire, then the man inside must have been badly burned, so it could have been someone else, not Daddy."Deep, rasping sobs tore from Momma's throat, though not a tear fell from her eyes. She believed! She believed those two men were speaking the truth!The guests who had come so prettily dressed to attend a birthday party swarmed about us now and said those consoling things people say when there just aren't any right words."We're so sorry, Corinne, really shocked...it's terrible."What an awful thing to happen to Chris."Our days are numbered...that's the way it is, from the day we're born, our days are numbered."It went on and on, and slowly, like water into concrete it sank in. Daddy was really dead. We were never going to see him alive again. We'd only see him in a coffin, laid out in a box that would end up in the ground, with a marble headstone that bore his name and his day of birth and his day of death. Numbered the same, but for the year.I looked around, to see what was happening to the twins, who shouldn't have been feeling what I was. Someone kind had taken them into the kitchen and was preparing them a light meal before they were tucked into bed. My eyes met Christopher's. He seemed as caught in this nightmare as I was, his young face pale and shocked; a hollow look of grief shadowed his eyes and made them dark.One of the state troopers had gone out to his car, and now he came back with a bundle of things which he carefully spread out on the coffee table. I stood frozen, watching the display of all the things Daddy kept in his pockets: a lizard-skinned wallet Momma had given him as a Christmas gift; his leather notepad and date book; his wristwatch; his wedding band. Everything was blackened and charted by smoke and fire.Last came the soft pastel animals meant for Cory and Carrie, all found, so the red-faced trooper said, scattered on the highway. A plushy blue elephant with pink velvet ears, and a purple pony with a red saddle and golden reins -- oh, that just had to be for Carrie. Then the saddest articles of all -- Daddy's clothes, which had burst the confines of his suitcases when the trunk lock sprang.I knew those suits, those shirts, ties, socks. There was the same tie I had given him on his last birthday."Someone will have to identify the body," said the trooperNow I knew positively. It was real, our father would never come home without presents for all of us -- even on his own birthday.I ran from that room! Ran from all the things spread out that tore my heart and made me ache worse than any pain I had yet experienced. I ran out of the house and into the back garden, and there I beat my fists upon an old maple tree. I beat my fists until they ached and blood began to come from the many small cuts; then I flung myself down on the grass and cried -- cried ten oceans of tears, for Daddy who should be alive, I cried for us, who would have to go on living without him. And the twins, they hadn't even had the chance to know how wonderful he was -- or had been. And when my tears were over, and my eyes swollen and red, and hurt from the rubbing, I heard soft footsteps coming to me -- my mother.She sat down on the grass beside me and took my hand in hers. A quarter-horned moon was out, and millions of stars, and the breezes were sweet with the newborn fragrances of spring. "Cathy," she said eventually when the silence between us stretched so long it might never come to an end, "Your father is up in heaven looking down on you, and you know he would want you to be brave.""He's not dead, Momma!" I denied vehemently."You've been out in this yard a long time; perhaps you don't realize it's ten o'clock. Someone had to identify your father's body, and though Jim Johnston offered to do this, and spare me the pain, I had to see for myself. For, you see, I found it hard to believe too. Your father is dead, Cathy. Christopher is on his bed crying, and the twins are asleep; they don't fully realize what 'dead' means."She put her arms around me, and cradled my head down on her shoulder."Come," she said, standing and pulling me up with her, keeping her arm about my waist, "You've been out here much too long. I thought you were in the house with the others, and the others thought you were in your room, or with me. It's not good to be alone when you feel bereft. It's better to be with people and share your grief, and not keep it locked up inside."She said this dry-eyed, with not a tear, but somewhere deep inside her she was crying, screaming. I could tell by her tone, by the very bleakness that had sunk deeper into her eyes.With our father's death, a nightmare began to shadow our days. I gazed reproachfully at Momma and thought she should have prepared us in advance for something like this, for we'd never been allowed to own pets that suddenly pass away and teach us a little about losing through death. Someone, some adult, should have warned us that the young, the handsome, and the needed can die, too.How do you say things like this to a mother who looked like fate was pulling her through a knothole and stretching her out thin and flat? Could you speak honestly to someone who didn't want to talk, or eat, or brush her hair, or put on the pretty clothes that filled her closet? Nor did she want to attend to our needs. It was a good thing the kindly neighborhood women came in and took us over, bringing with them food prepared in their own kitchens. Our house filled to overflowing with flowers, with homemade casseroles, hams, hot rolls, cakes, and pies.They came in droves, all the people who loved, admired, and respected our father, and I was surprised he was so well-known. Yet I hated it every time someone asked how he died, and what a pity someone so young should die, when so many who were useless and unfit, lived on and on, and were a burden to society.From all that I heard, and overheard, fate was a reaper, never kind, with little respect for who was loved and needed.Spring days passed on toward summer. And grief, no matter how you try to cater to its wail, has a way of fading away, and the person so real, so beloved, becomes a dim, slightly out-of-focus shadow.One day Momma sat so sad-faced that she seemed to have forgotten how to smile. "Momma," I said brightly, in an effort to cheer her, "Im going to pretend Daddy is still alive, and away on another of his business trips, and soon he'll come, and stride in the door, and he'll call out, just as he used to, 'Come and greet me with kisses if you love me.' And -- don't you see? -- we'll feel better, all of us, like he is alive somewhere, living where we can't see him, but where we can expect him at any moment.""No, Cathy," Momma flared, "you must accept the truth. You are not to find solace in pretending. Do you hear that! Your father is dead, and his soul has gone on to heaven, and you should understand at your age that no one ever has come back from heaven. As for us, we'll make do the best we can without him and that doesn't mean escaping reality by not facing up to it."I watched her rise from her chair and begin to take things from the refrigerator to start breakfast."Momma..." I began again, feeling my way along cautiously lest she turn hard and angry again. "Will we be able to go on, without him?""I will do the best I can to see that we survive," she said dully, flatly."Will you have to go to work now, like Mrs. Johnston?""Maybe, maybe not. Life holds all sorts of surprises, Cathy, and some of them are unpleasant, as you are finding out. But remember always you were blessed to have for almost twelve years a father who thought you were something very special.""Because I look like you," I said, still feeling some of that envy I always had, because I came in second after her.She threw me a glance as she rambled through the contents of the jam-packed fridge. "I'm going to tell you something now, Cathy, that I've never told you before. You look very much as I did at your age, but you are not like me in your personality. You are much more aggressive, and much more determined. Your father used to say that you were like his mother, and he loved his mother.""Doesn't everybody love their mother?""No," she said with a queer expression, "there are some mothers you just can't love, for they don't want you to love them."She took bacon and eggs from the refrigerator, then turned to take me in her arms. "Dear Cathy, you and your father had a very special close relationship, and I guess you must miss him more because of that, more than Christopher does, or the twins."I sobbed against her shoulder. "I hate God for taking him! He should have lived to be an old man! He won't be there when I dance and when Christopher is a doctor. Nothing seems to matter now that he's gone.""Sometimes," she began in a tight voice, "death is not as terrible as you think. Your father will never grow old, or infirm. He'll always stay young; you'll remember him that way -- young, handsome, strong. Don't cry anymore, Cathy, for as your father used to say, there is a reason for everything and a solution for every problem, and I'm trying, trying hard to do what I think best."We were four children stumbling around in the broken pieces of our grief and loss. We would play in the back garden, trying to find solace in the sunshine, quite unaware that our lives were soon to change so drastically, so dramatically, that the words "backyard" and "garden" were to become for us synonyms for heaven -- and just as remote.It was an afternoon shortly after Daddy's funeral, and Christopher and I were with the twins in the backyard. They sat in the sandbox with small shovels and sand pails. Over and over again they transferred sand from one pail to another, gibbering back and forth in the strange language only they could understand. Cory and Carrie were fraternal rather than identical twins, yet they were like one unit, very much satisfied with each other. They built a wall about themselves so they were the castle-keeps, and full guardians of their larder of secrets. They had each other and that was enough.The time for dinner came and went. We were afraid that now even meals might be cancelled, so even without our mother's voice to call us in, we caught hold of the dimpled, fat hands of the twins and dragged them along toward the house. We found our mother seated behind Daddy's big desk; she was writing what appeared to be a very difficult letter, if the evidence of many discarded beginnings meant anything. She frowned as she wrote in longhand, pausing every so often to lift her head and stare off into space."Momma," I said, "it's almost six o'clock. The twins are growing hungry.""In a minute, in a minute," she said in an off-hand way. "I'm writing to your grandparents who live in Virginia. The neighbors have brought us food enough for a week -- you could put one of the casseroles in the oven, Cathy."It was the first meal I almost prepared myself. I had the table set, and the casserole heating, and the milk poured, when Momma came in to help.It seemed to me that every day after our father had gone, our mother had letters to write, and places to go, leaving us in the care of the neighbor next door. At night Momma would sit at Daddy's desk, a green ledger book opened in front of her, checking over stacks of bills. Nothing felt good anymore, nothing. Often now my brother and I bathed the twins, put on their pajamas, and tucked them into bed. Then Christopher would hurry off to his room to study, while I would hurry back to my mother to seek a way to bring happiness to her eyes again.parA few weeks later a letter came in response to the many our mother had written home to her parents. Immediately Momma began to cry -- even before she had opened the thick, creamy envelope, she cried. Clumsily she used a letter opener, and with trembling hands she held three sheets, reading over the letter three times. All the while she read, tears trickled slowly down her cheeks, smearing her makeup with long, pale, shiny streaks.She had called us in from the backyard as soon as she had collected the mail from the box near the front door, and now we four were seated on the living room sofa. As I watched I saw her soft fair Dresden face turn into something cold, hard, resolute. A cold chill shivered down my spine. Maybe it was because she stared at us for so long -- too long. Then she looked down at the sheets held in her trembling hands, then to the windows, as if there she could find some answer to the question of the letter.Momma was acting so strangely. It made us all uneasy and unusually quiet, for we were already intimidated enough in a fatherless home without a creamy letter of three sheets to glue our mother's tongue and harden her eyes. Why did she look at us so oddly?Finally, she cleared her throat and began to speak, but in a cold voice, totally unlike her customary soft, warm cadence. "Your grandmother has at last replied to my letters," she said in that icy voice. "All those letters I wrote to her...well...she has agreed. She is willing to let us come and live with her."Good news! Just what we had been waiting to hear -- and we should have been happy. But Momma fell into that moody silence again, and she just sat there staring at us. What was the matter with her? Didn't she know we were hers, and not some stranger's four perched in a row like birds on a clothesline?"Christopher, Cathy, at fourteen and twelve, you two should be old enough to understand, and old enough to cooperate, and help your mother out of a desperate situation." She paused, fluttered one hand up to nervously finger the beads at her throat and sighed heavily. She seemed on the verge of tears. And I felt sorry, so sorry for poor Momma, without a husband."Momma," I said, "is everything all right?""Of course, darling, of course." She tried to smile. "'Your father, God rest his soul, expected to live to a ripe old age and acquire in the meantime a sizable fortune. He came from people who know how to make money, so I don't have any doubts he would have done just what he planned, if given the time. But thirty-six is so young to die. People have a way of believing nothing terrible will ever happen to them, only to others. We don't anticipate accidents, nor do we expect to die young. Why, your father and I thought we would grow old together, and we hoped to see our grandchildren before we both died on the same day. Then neither of us would be left alone to grieve for the one who went first."Again she sighed. "I have to confess we lived way beyond our present means, and we charged against the future. We spent money before we had it. Don't blame him; it was my fault. He knew all about poverty. I knew nothing about it. You know how he used to scold me. Why, when we bought this house, he said we needed only three bedrooms, but I wanted four. Even four didn't seem enough. Look around, there's a thirty year mortgage on this house. Nothing here is really ours: not this furniture, not the cars, not the appliances in the kitchen or laundry room, not one single thing is fully paid for."Did we look frightened? Scared? She paused as her face flushed deeply red, and her eyes moved around the lovely room that set off her beauty so well. Her delicate brows screwed into an anxious frown. "Though your father would chastise me a little, still he wanted them, too. He indulged me, because he loved me, and I believe I convinced him finally that luxuries were absolute necessities, and he gave in, for we had a way, the two of us, of indulging our desires too much. It was just another of the things we had in common."Her expression collapsed into one of forlorn reminiscence before she continued on in her stranger's voice. "Now all our beautiful things will be taken away. The legal term is repossession. That's what they do when you don't have enough money to finish paying for what you've bought. Take that sofa, for example. Three years ago it cost eight hundred dollars. And we've paid all but one hundred, but still they're going to take it. We'll lose all that we've paid on everything, and that's still legal. Not only will we lose this furniture and the house, but also the cars -- in fact, everything but our clothes and your toys. They're going to allow me to keep my wedding band, and I've hidden away my engagement diamond -- so please don't mention I ever had an engagement ring to anyone who might come to check."Who "they" were, not one of us asked. It didn't occur to me to ask. Not then. And later it just didn't seem to matter.Christopher's eyes met mine. I floundered in the desire to understand, and struggled not to drown in the understanding. Already I was sinking, drowning in the adult world of death and debts. My brother reached out and took my hand, then squeezed my fingers in a gesture of unusual brotherly reassurance.Was I a windowpane, so easy to read, that even he, my arch-tormentor, would seek to comfort me? I tried to smile, to prove to him how adult I was, and in this way gloss over that trembling and weak thing I was cringing into because "they" were going to take everything. I didn't want any other little girl living in my pretty peppermint pink room, sleeping in my bed, playing with the things I cherished -- my miniature dolls in their shadowbox frames, and my sterling-silver music box with the pink ballerina -- would they take those, too?Momma watched the exchange between my brother and me very closely. She spoke again with a bit of her former sweet self showing. "Don't look so heartbroken. It's not really as bad as I've made it seem. You must forgive me if I was thoughtless and forgot how young you still are. I've told you the bad news first, and saved the best for the last. Now hold your breath! You are not going to believe what I have to tell you -- for my parents are rich! Not middleclass rich, or upperclass rich, but very, very rich! Filthy, unbelievably, sinfully rich! They live in a fine big house in Virginia -- such a house as you've never seen before. I know, I was born there, and grew up there, and when you see that house, this one will seem like a shack in comparison. And didn't I say we are going to live with them -- my mother, and my father?"She offered this straw of cheer with a weak and nervously fluttering smile that did not succeed in releasing me from doubts which her demeanor and her information had pitched me into. I didn't like the way her eyes skipped guiltily away when I tried to catch them. I thought she was hiding something.But she was my mother.And Daddy was gone.I picked up Carrie and sat her on my lap, pressing her small, warm body close against mine. I smoothed back the damp golden curls that fell over her rounded forehead. Her eyelids drooped, and her full rosebud lips pouted. I glanced at Cory, crouching against Christopher. "The twins are tired, Momma. They need their dinner."ard"Time enough for dinner later," she snapped impatiently. "We have plans to make, and clothes to pack, for tonight we have to catch a train. The twins can eat while we pack. Everything you four wear must be crowded into only two suitcases. I want you to take only your favorite clothes and the small toys you cannot bear to leave. Only one game. I'll buy you many games after you are there. Cathy, you select what clothes and toys you think the twins like best -- but only a few. We can't take along more than four suitcases, and I need two for my own things."Oh, golly-lolly! This was real! We had to leave, abandon everything! I had to crowd everything into two suitcases my brothers and sister would share as well. My Raggedy Ann doll alone would half fill one suitcase! Yet how could I leave her, my most beloved doll, the one Daddy gave me when I was only three? I sobbed.So, we sat with our shocked faces staring at Momma. We made her terribly uneasy, for she jumped up and began to pace the room."As I said before, my parents are extremely wealthy." She shot Christopher and me an appraising glance, then quickly turned to hide her face."Mor-n ma," said Christopher, "is something wrong?"I marveled that he could ask such a thing, when it was only too obvious, everything was wrong.She paced. her long shapely legs appearing through the front opening of her filmy black negligee, Even in her grief, wearing black, she was beautiful-shadowed, troubled eyes and all. She was so lovely, and I loved her, -- oh, how I loved her then!How we all loved her then.Directly in front of the sofa, our mother spun around and the black chiffon of her negligee flared like a dancer's skirt, revealing her beautiful legs from feet to hips."Darlings," she began, "what could possibly be wrong about living in such a fine home as my parents own? I was born there; I grew up there, except for those years when I was sent away to school. It's a huge, beautiful house, and they keep adding new rooms to it, though Lord knows they have enough rooms already."She smiled, but something about her smile seemed false. "There is, however, one small thing I have to tell you before you meet my father -- your grandfather." Here again she faltered, and again smiled that queer, shadowy smile. "Years ago, when I was eighteen, I did something serious, of which your grandfather disapproved, and my mother wasn't approving, either, but she wouldn't leave me anything, anyway, so she doesn't count. But, because of what I did, my father had me written out of his will, and so now I am disinherited. Your father used to gallantly call this 'fallen from grace.' Your father always made the best of everything, and he said it didn't matter."Fallen from grace? Whatever did that mean? I couldn't imagine my mother doing anything so bad that her own father would turn against her and take away what she should have."Yes, Momma, I know exactly what you mean," Christopher piped up. "You did something of which your father disapproved, and so, even though you were included in his will, he had his lawyer write you out instead of thinking twice, and now you won't inherit any of his worldly goods when he passes on to the great beyond." He grinned, pleased with himself for knowing more than me. He always had the answers to everything. He had his nose in a book whenever he was in the house. Outside, under the sky, he was just as wild, just as mean as any other kid on the block. But indoors, away from the television, my older brother was a bookworm!Naturally, he was right."Yes, Christopher. None of your grandfather's wealth will come to me when he dies, or through me, to you. That's why I had to keep writing so many letters home when my mother didn't respond." Again she smiled, this time with bitter irony. "But, since I am the sole heir left, I am hopeful of winning back his approval. You see, once I had two older brothers, but both have died in accidents, and now I am the only one left to inherit." Her restless pacing stopped. Her hand rose to cover her mouth; she shook her head, then said in a new parrot-like voice, "I guess I'd better tell you something else. Your real surname is not Dollanganger; it is Foxworth. And Foxworth is a very important name in Virginia.""Momma!" I exclaimed in shock. "Is it legal to change your name, and put that fake name on our birth certificates?"Her voice became impatient. "For heaven's sake, Cathy, names can be changed legally. And the name Dollanganger does belong to us, more or less. Your father borrowed that name from way back in his ancestry. He thought it an amusing name, a joke, and it served its purpose well enough.""What purpose?" I asked. "Why would Daddy legally change his name from something like Foxworth, so easy to spell, to something long and difficult like Dollanganger?""Cathy, I'm tired," said Momma, falling into the nearest chair. "There's so much for me to do, so many legal details. Soon enough you'll know everything; I'll explain. I swear to be totally honest; but please, now, let me catch my breath."Oh, what a day this was. First we hear the mysterious "they" were coming to take away all our things, even our house. And then we learn even our own last name wasn't really ours.The twins, curled up on our laps, were already half-asleep, and they were too young to understand, anyway. Even I, now twelve years old, and almost a woman, could not comprehend why Momma didn't really look happy to be going home again to parents she hadn't seen in fifteen years. Secret grandparents we'd thought were dead until after our father's funeral. Only this day had we heard of two uncles who'd died in accidents. It dawned on me strongly then, that our parents had lived full lives even before they had children, that we were not so important after all."Momma," Christopher began slowly, "your fine, grand home in Virginia sounds nice, but we like it here. Our friends are here, everybody knows us, likes us, and I know I don't want to move. Can you see Daddy's attorney and ask him to help find a way so we can stay on, and keep our house and our furmishings?""Yes, Momma, please, let us stay here," I added.Quickly Momma was out of her chair and striding across the room. She dropped down on her knees before us, her eyes on the level with ours. "Now listen to me," she ordered, catching my brother's hand and mine and pressing them both against her breasts. "I have thought, and I have thought of how we can manage to stay on here, but there is no way -- no way at all, because we have no money to meet the monthly bills, and I don't have the skills to earn an adequate salary to support four children and myself as well. Look at me," she said, throwing wide her arms, appearing vulnerable, beautiful, helpless. "Do you know what I am? I am a pretty, useless ornament who always believed she'd have a man to take care of her. I don't know how to do anything. I can't even type. I'm not very good with arithmetic. I can embroider beautiful needlepoint and crewelwork stitches, but that kind of thing doesn't earn any money. You can't live without money. It's not love that makes the world go 'round -- it's money. And my father has more money than he knows what to do with. He has only one living heir -- me! Once he cared more for me than he did for either of his sons, so it shouldn't be difficult to win back his affection. Then he will have his attorney draw me into a new will, and I will inherit everything! He is sixty-six years old, and he is dying of heart disease. From what my mother wrote on a separate sheet of paper which my father didn't read, your grandfather cannot possibly live more than two or three months longer at the most. That will give me plenty of time to charm him into loving me like he used to -- and when he dies, his entire fortune will be mine! Mine! Ours! We will be free forever of all financial worries. Free to go anywhere we want. Free to do anything we want. Free to travel, to buy what our hearts desire, anything our hearts desire! I'm not speaking of only a million or two, but many, many millions -- maybe even billions! People with that kind of money don't even know their own net value, for it's invested here and there, and they own this and that, including banks, airlines, hotels, department stores, shipping lines. Oh, you just don't realize the kind of empire your grandfather controls, even now, while he's on his last legs. He has a genius for making money. Everything he touches turns to gold."Her blue eyes gleamed. The sun shone through the front windows, casting diamond strands of light on her hair. Already she seemed rich beyond value. Momma, Momma, how had all of this come about only after our father died?"Christopher, Cathy, are you listening, using your imaginations? Do you realize what a tremendous amount of money can do? The world, and everything in it is yours! You have power, influence, respect. Trust me. Soon enough I will win back my father's heart. He'll take one look at me, and realize instantly how all those fifteen years we've been separated have been such a waste. He's old, sick, he always stays on the first floor, in a small room beyond the library, and he has nurses to take care of him night and day, and servants to wait on him hand and foot. But only your own flesh and blood means anything, and I'm all he has left, only me. Even the nurses don't find it necessary to climb the stairs, for they have their own bath. One night, I will prepare him to meet his four grandchildren, and then I will bring you down the stairs, and into his room, and he will be charmed, enchanted by what he sees: four beautiful children who are perfect in every way -- he is bound to love you, each and every one of you. Believe me, it will work out, just the way I say. I promise that whatever my father requires of me, I will do. On my life, on all I hold sacred and dear -- and that is the children my love for your father made -- you can believe I will soon be the heir to a fortune beyond belief, and through me, every dream you've ever had will come true."My mouth gaped open. I was overwhelmed by her passion. I glanced at Christopher to see him staring at Momma with incredulity. Both the twins were on the soft fringes of sleep. They had heard none of this.We were going to live in a house as big and rich as a palace.In that palace so grand, where servants waited on you hand and foot, we would be introduced to King Midas, who would soon die, and then we would have a the money, to put the world at our feet. We were into riches beyond belief! I would be just like a princess!Yet, why didn't I feel really happy?"Cathy," said Christopher, beaming on me a broad, happy smile, "You can still be a ballerina. I don't think money can buy talent, nor can it make a good doctor out of a playboy. But, until the time comes when we have to be dedicated and serious, my, aren't we gonna have a ball?"I couldn't take the sterling-silver music box with the pink ballerina inside. The music box was expensive and had been listed as something of value for "them" to claim.I couldn't take down the shadowboxes from the walls, or hide away the miniature dolls. There was hardly anything I could take that Daddy had given me except the small ring on my finger, with a semi-precious gem stone shaped like a heart.And, just like Christopher said, after we were rich, our lives would be one big ball, one long, long party.That's the way rich people lived -- happily ever after as they counted their money and made their fun plans.Fun, games, parties, riches beyond belief, a house as big as a palace, with servants who lived over a huge garage that stored away at least nine or ten expensive automobiles. Who would ever have guessed my mother came from a family like that? Why had Daddy argued with her so many times about spending money lavishly, when she could have written letters home before, and done a bit of humiliating begging?Slowly I walked down the hall to my room, to stand before the silver music box where the pink ballerina stood in arabesque position when the lid was opened, and she could see herself in the reflecting mirror. And I heard the tinkling music play, "Whirl, ballerina, whirl."I could steal it, if I had a place to hide it.Good-bye, pink-and-white room with the peppermint walls. Good-bye, little white bed with the dotted Swiss canopy that had seen me sick with measles, mumps, chicken pox.Good-bye again to you, Daddy, for when I'm gone, I can't picture you sitting on the side of my bed, and holding my hand, and I won't see you coming from the bathroom with a glass of water. I really don't want to go too much, Daddy. I'd rather stay and keep your memory close and near."Cathy" -- Momma was at the door -- "don't just stand there and cry. A room is just a room. You'll live in many rooms before you die so hurry up, pack your things and the twins' things, while I do my own packing."Before I died, I was going to live in a thousand rooms or more, a little voice whispered this in my ear...and I believed.Copyright © 1979 by Virginia C. Andrews Trust

Editorial Reviews

"At age 13, I survived almost entirely on green apple Jolly Ranchers and Flowers in the Attic, and to this day I can't look at the book without my mouth watering. My much loved copy must have come from a supermarket (it was impossible to go to a supermarket in the '80s to, say, secretly stock up on green apple Jolly Ranchers, without a V.C. Andrews book lurking by checkout)... I loved that book.   The narrator, Cathy, who ages from 12 to 15 over the course of the story, is part princess (she is locked in a tower; she is beset by cruel foes; she has long, perfect hair until the grandmother tars it one night), and part witch (she's tantrum-prone, pessimistic, cynical). Basically, I adored her because she is like all girls around the age of 13: at turns sulky, giving, selfish, charming, nasty and heroic.   Flowers in the Attic is most famous for the fact that Cathy and her brother fall in love. It's a weird, strangely old-fashioned love story (and is Chris ever the stuff of teenage dreams: handsome, brilliant, extravagantly chivalrous), but it's not what hooked me. What kept me circling around to the beginning was that hyper-Gothic female evil. The emotionally cold, physically abusive grandmother. The cloying, manipulative, mind-warping mother. It felt so new and stunning to me — these witches who seemed quite real. I devoured the sequels less to learn about Cathy's tragic love story than to see what kind of woman Cathy became — princess, witch, a bit of both? — and what she'd do with all those awful urges she inherited."