My Sweet Audrina
||This article consists almost entirely of a plot summary. It should be expanded to provide more balanced coverage that includes real-world context. (July 2011)|
|My Sweet Audrina|
First edition cover
|Author||V. C. Andrews|
|Series||only book written as a solo|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
My Sweet Audrina is a 1982 novel by V. C. Andrews. It was the only standalone novel without incest published during Andrews' lifetime. It was a number one best-selling novel in North America, published in between If There Be Thorns and Seeds of Yesterday. The story takes place in the Southeastern United States during the 1960s—70s.
Audrina Adare lives with her father Damian, who has a strange past, gifted pianist mother Lucietta, feminist aunt Ellsbeth and cousin Vera, a bully with a rare medical condition called brittle bone disease. Nine years before Audrina was born, her elder sister—who was also named Audrina—was raped and murdered in the woods. Damian convinces the younger Audrina that, by a process of self-hypnosis, she can gain all of the First Audrina's memories and become just as beloved and special as her dead sister, which is what Audrina wants more than anything else in the world. Audrina, who has posttraumatic stress disorder, has been told she is psychic as an explanation for her flashbacks and fragmented memories. She is haunted by dreams of her dead sister's rape and is terrified of sex and men. When she is seven, she meets Arden Lowe and his mother Billie, a diabetic former figure-skating champion and amputee. Arden and Audrina become childhood sweethearts but Damian disapproves and Vera wants Arden for herself. Meanwhile, Lucietta is pregnant yet again. On Audrina's ninth birthday, Lucietta goes into early labor and dies in childbirth; the baby, a girl, is named Sylvia.
More than three years after her birth, Sylvia finally comes home from the hospital and turns out to be intellectually disabled, probably autistic. A few years later, Audrina discovers the affair between Lamar Rensdale (her music teacher, who secretly preferred Audrina) and Vera and that Vera is pregnant. Audrina is aware that the baby could be either Lamar's or Arden's because Vera has admitted to having sex with them both. In the ensuing confrontation, Vera has a miscarriage. The next day, she leaves town with Lamar. She leaves a note stating that she is Audrina's paternal half-sister, due to an affair that Ellsbeth had with Damian before he met Lucietta. Shortly after she turns eighteen, Audrina discovers that Damian and Ellsbeth are lovers again; however, tragedy strikes again when Ellsbeth threatens to leave Damian because he will not let her help Vera, who is alone after Lamar allegedly committed suicide. Damian begs Ellsbeth not to leave and asks her to marry him. She accepts. The next morning, she is found dead from a mysterious fall down the stairs. The police assume this was an accident.
Audrina elopes with Arden, hoping to escape her controlling father, and takes Sylvia with her. However, she is still not prepared for sexual intimacy, and her wedding night goes terribly wrong. When the newlyweds return from their disastrous honeymoon, they find that Damian has won over Arden's mother. He also offers Arden a job at his company. Audrina is upset but goes along with it for the sake of peace. Vera returns suddenly one day and, against Damian's wishes, stays for a while. It is not long before Vera attempts to seduce Arden. Damian and Billie have become lovers, discovered first by Audrina, then Vera. To Vera's disgust, Damian has been planning to marry Billie. A few days later, tragedy strikes again when Billie "falls" down the same steps and dies. Vera attempts to cast suspicion upon Sylvia as the one responsible, causing Damian to emotionally distance himself from his youngest daughter. The police call this death "accidental" as well.
Depressed, Audrina pulls away from Arden and Sylvia—and Vera and Arden begin an affair. But when Audrina's love and sexuality finally awakens, she tells Arden that she does not want to lose him and they spend the first happy night of their marriage together. Afterwards, she awakens during the night, is pushed from behind down the stairs and falls into a coma. While in the coma, she is attended by Vera, who has become a nurse. Vera, knowing Audrina cannot respond, reveals details about her affair with Arden and that she is going to kill Audrina. After the funeral, she plans to put Sylvia in a psychiatric ward, have Damian sent away to a geriatric centre and marry Arden. With Sylvia's help, Audrina awakens and escapes, realising that she cannot die without learning the secret of First Audrina because she remembers that Arden had been present and witnessed the rape but ran away in fear. She goes to the cemetery, where the First Audrina is burried, to dig up the coffin. Arden follows and they argue until she sees that the grave is empty.
Audrina confronts her father and he confesses that the First and Best Audrina never existed. It was Audrina herself who was gang raped in the woods. Arden had been walking with the three other boys, not knowing what they had planned, until Audrina arrived. The rape left her with posttraumatic stress disorder and she even attempted suicide. In an attempt to save Audrina from herself, Damian subjected her to electro-convulsive therapy, trying to erase the memory of the rape. Following Damian's lead, the family gave Audrina medication and conspired to convince her that the rape did not happen to her but to an older sister who died before she was born. Eventually, the repetition of this story worked. Since the family deliberately changed the clocks in the house and also ripped off calendar days, her sense of time was also altered. Audrina remembers the morning of her ninth birthday and realises that Vera was the only other person who knew she would be coming home through the woods that day. Damian realises that Vera arranged with those boys to have Audrina raped. However, Vera denies being involved, though her reaction suggests she is in fact guilty. Damian is indignant and roars in anger, ready to assault Vera. When Vera turns to run, she falls down the stairs, later dying of her numerous injuries, having broken nearly every bone in her body. Before she dies, she tells Arden that her fall was her own fault. It also becomes evident that Vera killed Lamar, Ellsbeth and Billie.
After Vera's funeral, Audrina decides to take herself and Sylvia away but Sylvia refuses to leave. As Audrina starts to leave alone, she experiences a premonition that Damian will die if she leaves and Sylvia will be institutionalised. Audrina realises that where there is love, there can be forgiveness for Damian and the promise of a fresh start with Arden. She decides to stay, finally feeling like the blessed "First" Audrina she has always strived to be.