During one of the many Getting To Know You conversations between new Riot contributors, Leila Roy and Jamie Canaves discovered that they had a childhood literary experience in common: V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic. That led to another commonality—that they both had My Sweet Audrina in their TBR piles. Read on for more background, and let us know in the comments if you’ll be reading along!
When and how did you first read V.C. Andrews?
Leila: The school bus, in fifth grade! An older—and to be entirely honest, slightly terrifying—girl read some of the spicier parts of Flowers in the Attic aloud to us, and eventually I got my hands on it and read the entire thing. The rape went right over my head, as did the incest—I remember being more fascinated by the descriptions of the swan bed, of Cathy’s nighttime rambles through the house, and OF COURSE, the powdered donuts.
Jamie: I was tween age and a friend’s older cousin was reading V.C. Andrews’ books. My friend would read whichever book her cousin had finished and when she was done I’d read it. Obviously no one was censoring our reading. I read Flowers in the Attic first and then all the books in the Dollanganger series. I’m sure a lot of it went over my head because of my age but I remember it was the first time I felt seriously intense, complicated, and unexplainable emotions towards characters in a book. The experience was the definition of eye-opening!
Leila: My parents never censored my reading, either, though I can’t imagine that they’d have been particularly pleased about me reading this one… or finding out that the same girl on the bus was ALSO reading us excerpts from her own work-in-progress, which was an erotic Stephen King fanfic. I swear I’m not making this up.
Jamie: I think one of the added allures at the time was the many stories about how V. C. Andrews had died and a ghostwriter was finishing her books for her. This was all word of mouth—super reliable teen mouths—so most of the information was inaccurate and crazy but it did add to the fun of reading.
Leila: Yes! The story that circulated at our school was that her post-death books were written via a medium—maybe we misunderstood the term ‘ghostwriter’?
V.C. Andrews books: first three words or phrases that come to mind?
Leila: Can I just say fascinatingly grody three times?
Jamie: Incest, rapey, family sagas—and the winning book blurb does not go to me.
Have you read My Sweet Audrina? Thoughts?
Jamie: I have. Twice. Because it’s a plot spoiler I’ll discuss it in the next post but I proved Judy Blume’s theory about censorship and how a kid will just read right over what they don’t understand. It wasn’t until years later (probably around 15) that I read it for the second time and realized what I hadn’t fully understood the first time.
Leila: I have not! I re-read Flowers in the Attic a few years back, and more recently, I read Petals on the Wind for the first time. I still haven’t made it through If There Be Thorns. But every time I post about V. C. Andrews, someone tells me that I have to read My Sweet Audrina. So. It’s clearly time for that to happen.
Jamie: I’m looking forward to rereading it as an adult and comparing. At the moment I think the things that are not-plot spoiling which I remember is a prism, drooling, and a bon-bon eating, couch surfing character. There’s always the chance that none of those things are in the book as it’s been 15+ years since my last reading—and now I feel old.
Leila: Returning to Flowers in the Attic after decades was both eye-opening and a blast, so I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing your reaction to My Sweet Audrina. And the fact that I’m going in with entirely zero knowledge about the plot—prism? drooling? bon-bons and couch-surfing?—makes me MORE excited to start reading!
Jamie: Being that V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic is a cult-classic and My Sweet Audrina was published around the same time I’m always shocked to discover that most people never read it. I actually read all the way through to the Logan Series (at the time I decided my future son would be named Logan–I stand by my teenage brain) but the only books still on my bookshelf are Flowers in the Attic and My Sweet Audrina. It goes without saying I am Agnes-fluffy-unicorn-shaking excited about rereading this book and hearing what you have to say!
Leila: BRING. IT. ONNNNNNNNN!
And now for the reading…
We’ll be back with our thoughts on My Sweet Audrina early-July.
Do you share our fascination with V. C. Andrews? Do you have memories about reading her books, either clandestine or in the open? Have we inspired you to read or reread My Sweet Audrina with us? Let us know in the comments!