Book 5 in:
Garden of Shadows is the last book in the Flowers in the Attic series, and starts the Andrews pattern where the last book is a prequel to the series. Garden centers on Olivia, Cathy’s grandmother. Olivia’s mother died when she was young, and she has been raised by her father who has done nothing to help her overcome her less-than-feminine features or fine tune her womanly ways. This has led Olivia to be an old maid at the age of 24 (heaven forbid). Her father occasionally invites potential suitors home for dinner, and Olivia finally meets a man who does not run away from her when Malcolm Foxworth attends as a dinner guest. Malcolm is an attractive man so Olivia is surprised he is interested in her, until he reveals that he has no desire for flighty women as his mother was one and abandoned him as a child. The two are quickly married and Olivia is whisked off to Foxworth Hall, dreaming of love and hearts and flowers. Before they have even arrived at the mansion, Olivia sees a glimpse of her future when Malcolm talks to her more as a servant in the house than his wife. Olivia is in awe of the house, but is left cold when she is shown to her room and realizes that there will not be a consummation of the marriage that night.
Olivia is left to explore the mansion and discovers Malcom’s mother’s room – kept exactly as she left it. She lays down on the infamous swan bed, only to be surprised when Malcom finds her. He is angry that she has been so nosy and begins to rant about his mother. Before Olivia can stop him, Malcolm attacks her and rapes her there on the swan bed. Olivia realizes how truely messed up he is when he seems to only see his mother during the act. Yikes. Olivia soon comes to realize that Malcolm uses her to run the house while he works and sleeps his way around town, even spending time with a married woman sprawled across his desk at their wedding party. Why she just didn’t pack it in there and go back home to dad is beyond me.
9 months after the swan bed encounter, Olivia gives birth to a son, Mal (short for Malcolm, of course). At some point, she is impregnated by Malcolm again and gives birth to Joel (previously seen creeping around Foxworth Hall in Seeds of Yesterday). At some point, Malcolm’s dad, Garland, returns home from Europe with a new wife, Alicia, who is younger than Olivia and pregnant already. Malcolm immediately both hates and loves Alicia and creeps around after her (it is easy to see where Joel gets it from later). Alicia gives birth to Christopher and for a while, things seem to be running fairly smoothly. Until, that is, Alicia decides she wants to move into Malcolm’s mother’s room and sleep in the swan bed.
Unfortunately, Malcolm can’t stop being a creep, and Olivia is woken up by screams one night. She goes running to the swan bed room to discover Garland dead, Alicia in a torn nightgown, and Malcolm. Eventually, it comes out that Garland and Malcolm fought over Alicia, which killed Garland. Malcolm begins raping Alicia on a regular basis, and she eventually ends up pregnant.
Alicia is banished to the Flowers in the Attic room and Olivia pretends to be pregnant. After Alicia gives birth to a daughter, she and Christopher are whisked away and Olivia and Malcolm raise the daughter as their own. Because these people are made of crazy, Malcolm insists that this daughter be named after his mother – Corinne.
Much creepiness continues for years as the children grow. More deaths happen, and John Amos enters the story, who was last seen as a creepy butler in Petals on the Wind. (V. C. Andrews can’t be blamed for not bringing characters full circle.) Eventually Christopher returns home, he and Corinne fall in love (not realizing they are half-siblings), they run away, and the book ends where Flowers begins, with Olivia locking Corinne’s children in the attic.
Thank the sweet Lord this one is done. I enjoyed Flowers in the Attic, and to some extent Petals on the Wind. Both are fast reads and trashy enough to keep you interested. Garden of Shadows was interesting in letting you see where everything began, but a whole lot of nothing happens for a good portion of the book, which Andrews also did in If There Be Thorns. It is hard to be sympathetic for Olivia since she could have left crazypants Malcolm at any point – her father left her lots of money that Malcolm can never touch. None of the characters are lovable – they are either selfish, creepy, crazy, or so perfect you can’t believe it. And what the heck is with this weird swan bed? I can’t imagine wanting to sleep under a swan with a red eye staring at me.
Despite all this, I have begun reading my next series for the V. C. Andrews challenge, Heaven. I’m a glutton for punishment.