Secrets of the Morning
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First edition cover of Secrets of the Morning
|Author||V. C. Andrews|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster|
|Preceded by||Dawn 1990|
|Followed by||Twilight's Child 1992|
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (July 2008)|
Secrets of the Morning picks up where Dawn left off, with Dawn Cutler arriving in New York City after leaving her family’s hotel, Cutler's Cove, located in Virginia. Her family is filled with untrustworthy liars who only care for themselves. When Dawn arrives at the boarding house, she meets the owner, Agnes - an aging actress who remains obsessed with the stage. Agnes immediately thinks bad of Dawn due to a letter from Grandmother Cutler saying Dawn is promiscuous and spoiled after years of having her way at the hotel. After much effort, Dawn earns Agnes's trust. Dawn forms a strong bond of friendship with her roommate, a dancer named Trisha. Dawn and Trisha both attend a performing arts school, Bernhardt School For The Arts.
During Dawn's first year in the boarding house, she meets more residents and makes several new friends. Dawn is enrolled in special lessons with her piano teacher, a very famous opera singer named Michael Sutton. Michael is holding auditions for six people to be admitted to his singing class. Dawn is selected to be in this prestigious class at the beginning of her senior year. As time goes on Dawn feels attracted to Michael, who takes advantage of her and seduces her. After spending many forbidden weeks together, Dawn falls in love with Michael but feels guilty for betraying Jimmy. After Thanksgiving break ends, she discovers, much to her dismay, that she is expecting Michael's child.
Michael said that he would marry Dawn and take her with him on tour, but instead he flees the country. Dawn, mistakenly believing that he is taking her with him, goes to his apartment to discover he is gone. She finds out that Michael was just subletting the apartment from an old man and the gifts he bought for Dawn were just empty boxes. Then after leaving the apartment in shock, Dawn thinks she sees Michael, and she runs into oncoming traffic to catch him. Right after realizing that it wasn't Michael, she is struck by a taxi. Dawn wakes up in the hospital after four days. Dawn's doctor then tells her that luckily she and her baby are all right. Grandmother Cutler comes a few days later and tells Dawn she is sending her to The Meadows, Grandmother Cutler's childhood home, where her sister Emily is going to take care of her until after she delivers the baby.
Upon arriving, she meets Luther. A handyman and hard worker, Luther picks her up from the station, and drives her to the isolated dilapidated plantation. Emily is waiting for them and with her is her younger sister Charlotte. Charlotte is mentally disabled, but quite friendly. Emily is very harsh to Dawn and tells her she is an embarrassment to her family thus her reason for being sent to The Meadows is to avoid scandal. Emily keeps Dawn in a little stuffy room with no windows and just enough kerosene to last her one week. Emily doesn't allow the electricity to be used because of its expense. Emily is a trained midwife and she makes Dawn submit to an embarrassing and rough examination. Emily then gives Dawn two outfits to wear all the time. Emily takes all of Dawn's things and does not return them. Emily forces Dawn to do all the chores in the old plantation. Emily also puts vinegar into the food, claiming that the vinegar is to make them mindful of the bitterness of life and sin. Dawn makes it through the next few months with only simple-minded Charlotte as a companion. The times Dawn and Charlotte are alone Charlotte reveals she had a child and tells Dawn sometimes Emily lets the child visit. Emily told Charlotte that her baby was born with horns, because it was the spawn of the Devil. Dawn is intrigued and one night sneaks out to the west wing, a place where Dawn is forbidden to venture. She finds a nursery and is startled there by Emily. The two argue and the fight nearly becomes physical. Dawn storms off and trips over a lamp cord, and the resulting fall starts her into labor.
Dawn gives birth to a baby girl, whom she names Christie. After giving birth, she holds her daughter once and then the baby is whisked away so she can rest. When Dawn wakes up she asks for her baby, Emily tells her baby was born too small leading Dawn to believe the baby has died. Secretly, Grandmother Cutler has planned an adoption of Dawn's baby and while Dawn sleeps, the baby is taken to her new adoptive parents. When she wakes up again, Emily gives Dawn back her clothes and tells her that Luther is going to take her to the bus station so she can leave. To her surprise, Jimmy shows up to get her after becoming concerned that Dawn had not responded to his letters and Trisha told him what had happened to her. Jimmy interrogates Emily into revealing that Grandmother Cutler had given the baby up for adoption. Dawn tries to apologize to Jimmy for her betrayal, but Jimmy forgives her because she was taken advantage of. They set out to find Dawn's baby starting with Grandmother Cutler. To their shock Grandmother Cutler had just suffered a deadly stroke and is in the hospital. Dawn and Jimmy go see her to question her regarding the whereabouts of Dawn's baby. They find out that Grandmother Cutler is paralyzed from her left side but they see her for only five minutes and Dawn starts asking her “Where’s my baby?” Grandmother Cutler just murmurs so Dawn gets closer to her and listens to what her grandmother tells her, “You’re my curse” and then dies.
At the reading of her grandmother's will, Dawn finds out that her grandfather is really her biological father, because her mother had been raped by him years earlier and that is what led to the kidnapping plot. A portion of his will that he had specified only be read after the death of his wife revealed this and the fact that he left a significant amount of his fortune and over half ownership of Cutler's Cove Hotel to Dawn. After hearing about her real father, Dawn confronts her mother about it, but her mother refuses to talk. Dawn is disgusted with her mother and says she wouldn't care if the hotel burned to the ground. Dawn and Jimmy then leave to go get Christie, her daughter.
- Michael Sutton: A famous opera singer and the father of Christie. He seduces Dawn with fake affection and promises of marriage and a famous singing career. He later abandons her when she becomes pregnant with Christie.
- Christie Longchamp: Dawn's daughter with Michael.
- Emily Booth: Older sister of Lillian and Charlotte. She is a religious fanatic and controlling to everyone.
- Charlotte Booth: Younger sister of Lillian and Emily. She is mentally retarded and acts as an innocent, cheerful child.
- Luther: A caretaker of the Booth plantation. He is treated as a servant by Emily.