Saturday, 4 May 2013

Book Review : Flowers in the Attic

This book was a difficult read. Maybe I should have picked a bit more upbeat book. Even though the book was a little depressing I'm glad I read it. The book is about 4 children - Chris, Cathy and the twins Carrie and Cory - whose father has just passed away and they have to move back to their mothers parents house, with their mother. Their grandparents are very rich. So for the sake of the money that the mother would inherit from her parents she allows the children's grandmother (who is a religious fanatic and thinks that the children are the devil's spawn) to hide them away in the attic.

I've read a couple of reviews on the book where the mother has been criticized a lot along with the granny. I'm not saying the mother was not the worst kind of person. She willingly let her children be locked up in the attic without access to the outside world and basically ignored them. But she wasn't always like that. This is apparent in the way the children trusted her almost to the end.

In a part of the story there is a mention of how the grandmother herself was treated when she was little. She was not allowed to touch the Doll House given to her or a Persian Rug that was kept in a glass box. But when her daughter showed interest in these things the grandfather gave them to her as she was the favorite. This might be where the relationship between the granny and the mother could have deteriorated if it hadn't already. Being in that oppressive environment again she could have either stood up to them or buckled and found a way to survive at the expense of her children. I'm not justifying what she did. But it helps us understand where she was coming from. She learnt from a very young age that she could use her beauty to get her way. She had a choice to use it to help herself and the children but she chose to only help herself. In the beginning she had a lot of guilt. She tried to appease that guilt by getting the children a lot of gifts, trying to buy their love. This worked for a while, but not for long.

The book had a theme of history repeating itself. But it also showed what could have been done differently in these cases. Just like Cathy I was frustrated when Chris would always side with the mother. To him his mother could do no wrong. It made Cathy feel like she was the only one full of spite. Knowing this, the mother would always pander to Chris. I think she knew that Cathy would never completely trust her, that maybe, she was a little like her. But once the youngest children's health was endangered Chris stood up to his mother asking they be released. This loss of faith and trust in the one person who is never supposed to betray you was devastating to Cathy. Even though she wanted her older brother to stay the same. Realizing that their mother did not love them anymore but saw them as a burden, broke something in each of the kids.

But at the end the children overcame the evil that was their grandparents house. They did not break like their mother had. Even though throughout most of the book there are many depressing and sad moments, there were also moments of joy and hope. The children strove to keep their happiness. They made a garden of paper and chalk because they couldn't go outside. The older kids became the parents to the younger ones. They still tried to keep their morale high and always stuck together.

One of the things I liked about this book was that the daughter Cathy realized that she would never depend on any one man for her life. She saw that this was in a way the downfall of her mother. The same sentiment was also reinforced by Chris when he tells her that she shouldn't depend on him too much either, and tells her to be independent, her own woman.

It was difficult to read the book. But I couldn't put it down either. I won't say I enjoyed the book. I don't think that's how I should put it. But it gave me a lot to think about. It was a very well written book. It showcased despair and hope very well. I still need to decide if I will be taking up reading the rest of the series. I don't know if I'm up to it. Maybe a little later. I would rate this book a 4/5.

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