Sunday, March 9, 2014

If There Be Thorns, Part One: Your Whole Life Is a Lie

Since posting the Prelude, the If There Be Thorns fans came out of the woodwork.  I'm so pleased, but also slightly relieved, because I found myself saying uncharacteristically positive things about this book and I was afraid people would think the Andrews estate had sent me a nasty letter or something.  I legitimately try to laud the positive aspects of the books when I stumble across them, but Petals was a long, hard slog for me and by the time I reached that fuck-you-I-ain't-gotta-explain-shit ending, I'd pretty much given up on redemption.

Probably a much bigger issue is that the word "crazy" as applied to mental illness gets bantered around very casually.  There is nothing like labeling a character generic "crazy" to make me start analyzing.  While I do have some background in psychology, I am not qualified or licensed to make diagnoses, even for fictional characters.  If I make a giant mistake with the psych stuff, please call me out on it.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

If There Be Thorns: The Prelude

People tend to hate this book for two reasons, the first being the dual narrator thing.  I can't blame 'em: multiple first-person narrators are difficult to write and a pain in the butt to read, especially if the voices are not very distinctive.  She does a very good job of alternating between characterization--you can open the book at random and know after only a few words if you're in a Bart chapter or a Jory chapter--but voice-wise?  Not so much.  All of Andrews characters use the same syntax and vocabulary.  She makes an effort by having Bart drop his Gs and use a lot of sentence fragments, but for the most part, the narration is pretty uniform.

The other reason is Bart.

I'll make a case for Bart.  He ends up with the strongest, most complex characterization in the entire book, leaving the rest of the cast looking like indecisive, oblivious milquetoasts with their heads up their asses.  A lot of people find Bart creepy and off-putting, which is absolutely the case, but there is no denying that he is indeed Cathy's kid.

If There Be Thorns is arguably Andrews' most ambitious novel thus far.  She's writing from the perspective of two very young characters.  There are two narrators who alternate chapters.  And it's the only Andrews' novel with male protagonists.

That being said, all these things are executed pretty badly, though not all that much worse than in any of her other novels.  I've complained before that Andrews is terrible at writing realistic children, and males, and indeed human beings.  When all these elements are pushed to the forefront at the same time, the weaknesses are all the more obvious.

Yet on a technical level, this is probably one of Andrews' better novels.  Since she's dealing with a shorter period of time than the other books--a single summer, rather than years--a lot of the pacing and continuity errors that were so confusing in the first two books vanish.  And at times she gives a very clear image of the separation between adult-world and child-world, and the uneasiness of children who realize that their parents are untrustworthy even while they are totally dependent on said parents.  These are themes that were very prevalent in Flowers in the Attic, but here, she seems to get further under their skin.

Shall we start this thing?  Let's start this thing!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It Has Begun: New 'Cathy" Cast for Lifetime's Petals on the Wind

Once Upon A Time's Rose McIver Cast in Petals on the Wind

I've never seen OUAT and I know nothing about Rose McIver, but from her photos she does bear a faint resemblance to Heather Graham minus the crazy eyes, so at the very least, it seems we're getting a good physical type.

So far we know that the Petals movie is set ten years after Flowers.  In book-time, this involves skipping over Paul, so I wonder if he's going to be in this at all or if we're going to get him in flashbacks to explain how the kids survived after their escape.  Lifetime doesn't generally get squeamish about sex, but Cathy and Paul's May/December romance (even if it's really more April/Labor Day romance) might cause some pearl-clutching.  I wonder if Julian's going to make it in? 

If I squint, I could see how one might narrow the whole focus of the film to a straightforward revenge story, but let's face it: 90% of the book was Cathy's madcap romances with increasingly inappropriate men and it's going to feel empty if we don't get a peek at that.  And of course, it's all worth nothing if Cathy doesn't bleed on her feet.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Petals on the Wind, Part Ten: In Which All Those Other Christmases Were Foreshadowing

Welcome to the conclusion of Petals on the Wind!  Shit's about to get Jane Eyre around here, complete with fire, crazy first wives, and people stuffed in the attic.

I'm going to apologize right now.  In this section I ended up extensively questioning a major plothole that quickly spun out of control, resulting in me spending two paragraphs analyzing how the definition of the word "to" changes the entire outcome of the book.  I am not exaggerating.  I'm not even being pedantic.  The editing in the final section of this book was so shoddy that I was reduced to close analyzing individual prepositions in order to figure out what the hell was going on.

In my defense, it was kind of an important part of the book--it might actually be the book, in my opinion--and it was done in an attempt to finally answer the number one question I've seen regarding this particular book: what happened to Cory's body?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Petals on the Wind, Part Nine: You Really Didn't Think This Revenge Thing Through, Did You?

Greetings to the thousand extra page views per day I've been getting since Lifetime released Flowers in the Attic! 

 I feel I should warn you right now: if you love these books unconditionally, this blog is probably going to disappoint or upset you.  Here at the VCABlogorama, our love for the works of V.C. Andrews is as conditional as it is genuine, and we do a lot of snarking and criticizing.  The lesson of V.C. Andrews' novels is that people sometimes do terrible things out of love.  We snark because we love.    And hey!  At least I'm not poisoning anyone's doughnuts!*

But to serious matters.

This section is a little . . . rapey.  I dare say this is about as rapey as these books get, at least until we get to My Sweet Audrina (where I advise you to slip on some hip-waders because we're going to be wallowing in it).  It is almost impossible to get through this section without devolving into babbling Lovecraftian incoherence about how rape is portrayed in this section.  Therefore, trigger warning:

You have been warned by Trigger!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Petals on the Wind, Part Eight: Everything's Coming Up Carrie

Carrie is the buttmonkey of this series.

Fairly recently a commenter said that the character of Carrie made her uncomfortable simply because whenever Carrie appears on the page, it's because she's about to be victimized.  I agreed completely with the reader's opinion, but I also grimaced because I had just finished drafting the post for this section, I knew what was coming, and I really don't like making people uncomfortable (I'm a Southerner; it's engrained).

I feel sorry for Carrie as a character, though probably not for the reasons Andrews intended.  She's such an underutilized character when she could have been so much more.  Cathy claims to love her like a child, but Carrie's feelings and well-being are constantly neglected and forgotten.  She could have been a grounding force for Cathy, or her opposition, or anything.  Instead it seems the plot forgets all about her unless it's about to do something terrible to her.

Anyway, you are very, very correct to be suspicious of the book's sudden interest in Carrie right now.

I hope you brought your flashlights, gentle readers, because the book's about to get dark.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Buzzfeed: The Ghost of V.C. Andrews

The Ghost of V.C. Andrews: The Life, Death, and Afterlife of the Mysterious 'Flowers in the Attic' Author 

A really good overview of the relationship between Andrews' editor, her publishers, and Andrew Neiderman as they all worked to sustain Andrews' writings after her death, this also includes what might be a couple of "new" photos (at least, I'd never seen 'em) of Andrews and a hint that we may be at the end of the Andrews era so far as ghostwritten sequels are concerned.

As of late, Ann Patty (Andrews' editor) has been coming forward a lot more.  I don't know if this has anything to do with the upcoming film attracting more attention.  I suspect, too, that she may be on the verge of retirement.  She's also said in a few interviews that she'd like to publish a memoir on her relationship with Andrews, so she might be establishing her presence in anticipation of that move.

Either way, an interesting read, with some especially insightful info on Neiderman.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Um. Oops?

Those of you who visited this blog late last night--and my stat-box says there were about twenty of you--may have seen a partial review of the first section of If There Be Thorns.  It was late, I was sleepy, someone at Blogger put the Post button next to the Save button . . . mistakes were made.

Just wanted to post an apology and an explanation of why that post is no longer here.  You weren't hallucinating, and there was nothing wrong with your browser.  But hey!  At least there's proof that If There Be Thorns is a thing that will happen!

Meanwhile, Part Seven of the Petals on the Wind recap is up, and we're one week away from the new Flowers movie!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Petals on the Wind, Part Seven: In Which Cathy Marries in Haste

Fun Fact: the file from which I'm working is titled "Peddles on the Wind" which always makes me think of this:

We are on the cusp of Part Three, the shortest section of this book at about fifty pages.  It's also, strangely, a very eventful section: Cathy embarks on her violent first marriage, achieves her dream of becoming a world-renown ballerina, and becomes a mother and a widow at roughly the same time. Yet the plotting issues that have plagued the first three-fifths of the book are largely non-existent.  In fact, this is a section Andrews inexplicably glossed over long periods with a handwave even when the story might have done well to linger on a few scenes.  There's barely even a Christmas to mark the passage of time.

There are other things, though.  Horrible things.  Implication-y things.

Anyway: very short section, but a longish review.  We have an entire marriage to get through, so let's get to it!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lifetime Orders Flowers in the Attic Sequel, and Other Less Impressive Updates

Lifetime Orders Flowers in the Attic Sequel
I never thought I'd say this...but Lifetime loves us.

The real news is in the headline.  The remainder of the article is just a summary of the upcoming FitA remake.  I hope that this level of optimism mean that the film is going to be great.

While I'm here and since it's on topic, the next Petals on the Wind post will be up on Saturday.  It, too, is going to be long, since I'm trying to cover Cathy's entire first marriage in a single entry.  The pacing is just weird in this section.  Keep an eye out!