With the highly anticipated TV movie remake of V.C. Andrews Flowers In The Attic coming soon to Lifetime, Pocket Books reached out to see if I would be willing to read this classic thriller for the blog. The sent a beautifully repackaged paperback (see above) for my reading enjoyment. Having seen the original move made in 1987, when I was younger, and having only just found out it was based on a book about 5-6 years ago – I jumped at the chance.
After all, we all know that the book is always better than the movie.
I wanted to take things just a step further and review not just the book, but compare it to it’s already released movie companion. Plus it gave me the excuse to watch it again after so many years. Currently free on Netflix, Flowers In The Attic is based on the famous, and most popular of V.C. Andrews novels.
I want to emphasize the words based on here. As many book lovers, such as myself have come to realize, the movie creation of our favorite novels is never quite exact to the book, sometimes we feel cheated or screwed even. That is because it is BASED ON the book, not copied-exactly-to-be-made-into-a-movie-because-that-would-be-totally-impossible-the-book-was-not-written-for-the-screen-and-some-things-will-not-translate-as-well-as-you-think-they-will. (I did that in one breath) So basically I think we all need to calm down a bit when a character doesn’t say something the same way, or his shirt is the wrong color. It’s not possible to traslate directly a book to screen, no matter what you might think.
I digress, lets get back to Flowers In The Attic. Before you go into this movie, know that I highly suggest the reading of the novel first. I would do that with any book to movie, but I really, really suggest it with this one. The movie leaves out a very large plot point in the relationship between Cathy (played in the movie by Kristy Swanson who you might know from the Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie) and Christopher (played by Jeb Stuart Adams who you might know from Goonies), the oldest of the children.
While it’s safe to say that this particular plot point might not have been something that would be, um…looked upon with an open mind, back in 1987, I feel that it was a huge let down to not have it even hinted at it.
First things first, basic things to know about Flowers in the Attic, the Dollanganger kids suffer a great loss when their father dies and are forced to return to their mothers home where she was kicked out and disinherited 17 years prior. Her father is dying and the children can not be seen by him (for reasons you need to read the book to know) so they are stashed in a room in an unused wing (yes WING this house puts the Mall of America to shame) and told to wait. It won’t be long before he dies, and in that time mother will win back his love so she can get his money and they can live happily ever after.
In the book the kids are in this room, which contains the stairs to the attic in the back of a closet where they then spend most of their time, for much longer than the day or weeks mother said it would be. They are locked in, mistreated by their grandmother, sometimes left with no food and Cathy and Chris are forced to care for their 4 year old twin siblings Carrie and Cory. In the movie they are in this room for months maybe nearing a year, but seem to have the same reactions physically to this time frame that they do in the book when they are there 3 years. By cutting the time they are held captive, they can skip that plot point I mentioned earlier that they left out. The movie moves much too fast for my taste and I really hope the new Lifetime remake will do better to slow it down just a bit.
While the writing in the book was wonderful, only sometimes was it a little overly descriptive for my taste. But honestly, for having been written in 1979 I wasn’t as put off by it as I had thought I might be. The children’s vernacular is hard to adjust to for a few pages, they of course come from a different time and speak as such. Basically they speak properly…lol. Cathy, who narrates this story says “Golly gosh day” like we might use the words “Holy crap” and let me tell you – holy crap does she say it a lot.
The endings of both the book and movie are very different and I can’t tell you which I like best – but let’s just say that the ending to the movie is a wee bit more satisfying! *evil grin*
I am so happy I read this book – to have learned all the interesting things the movie left out and to have been able to tag along on the journey of Cathy and Chris a little longer. This is a book series, with 4 additional titles in it and I will be looking into these as well. Also watch for a review of my thoughts on the Lifetime TV movie remake as well, it’s set to air January 18th (according to IMdB) and I can’t wait!
THE 1987 MOVIE:
The Book Cover Through The Years