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Flowers in the Attic
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"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."--Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl, as related on NPR's All Things Considered

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