V. C. Andrews
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|Cleo Virginia Andrews|
June 6, 1923|
Portsmouth, Virginia, USA
|Died||December 19, 1986
Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA
Cleo Virginia Andrews (June 6, 1923 – December 19, 1986), better known as V. C. Andrews or Virginia C. Andrews, was an American novelist. She was born in Portsmouth, Virginia. Andrews died of breast cancer at the age of 63.
Andrews' novels combine Gothic horror and family saga, revolving around family secrets and forbidden love (frequently involving themes of consensual incest, most often between siblings), and they often include a rags-to-riches story. Her best-known novel is the infamous bestseller Flowers in the Attic (1979), a tale of four children locked in the attic of a wealthy Virginia family for over three years by their estranged religious grandmother.
Her novels were so successful that, after her death, her estate hired a ghost writer, Andrew Neiderman, to write more stories to be published under her name. In assessing a deficiency in her estate tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service argued (successfully) that Virginia Andrews's name was a valuable commercial asset, the value of which should be included in her gross estate.
Andrews was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, the youngest child and only daughter of the Andrews family. As a teenager, Andrews suffered a fall from a school stairwell, resulting in severe back injuries. The subsequent surgery to correct these injuries resulted in Andrews’s suffering from crippling arthritis that required her to use crutches and a wheelchair for much of her life. However, Andrews, who had always shown promise as an artist, was able to complete a four-year correspondence course from her home and soon became a successful commercial artist, illustrator, and portrait painter.
Later in life, Andrews turned to writing. Her first novel, titled Gods of Green Mountain, was a science fiction effort that remained unpublished during her lifetime but was released as an e-book in 2004. In 1975, Andrews completed a manuscript for a novel she called The Obsessed. The novel was returned with the suggestion that she "spice up" and expand the story. In later interviews, Andrews claims to have made the necessary revisions in a single night, re-submitting the changes as Flowers in the Attic. The novel, published in 1979, was an instant popular success, reaching the top of the bestseller lists in only two weeks. Every year thereafter until her death, Andrews published a new novel, each publication earning Andrews larger advances and a growing popular readership.
"I think I tell a whopping good story. And I don't drift away from it a great deal into descriptive material", she stated in Faces of Fear in 1985. "When I read, if a book doesn't hold my interest about what's going to happen next, I put it down and don't finish it. So I'm not going to let anybody put one of my books down and not finish it. My stuff is a very fast read."
Andrews died of breast cancer on December 19, 1986, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. After her death, her family hired a ghost writer, Andrew Neiderman, to finish the manuscripts she had started. He would complete the next two novels, Garden of Shadows and Fallen Hearts, and they were published soon after. These two novels are considered the last to bear the "V.C. Andrews" name and to be almost completely written by Andrews herself.
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Andrews's works (except the eight that are ghost-written) are grouped into series of five books. The first 5 series share several elements: The first few books are about the main character (always female); the fourth is about that character's child or another family member; and the last is a prequel about the main character's grandmother, explaining how the events of the first book arose.
After the Logan series ended, Neiderman decided to follow publishers' wishes and try something different with the Orphans miniseries; since then, only the Hudson and DeBeers series have followed the original formula.
The formula for the Orphans, Wildflowers, Shooting Stars, and Broken Wings series all follow the same structure. The first few books are each told from the main character's point of view. The fifth book is then told from the point of view of the character from the book before, the exception being the Orphans series. The Broken Wings series was only two books, although the first book contained four stories.
The Dollanganger series
Andrews's first series of novels concentrates on the lives of the Dollanganger family and was published between 1979 and 1986.
The first two novels, Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind, focus on the Dollanganger children: Chris, Cathy, Cory, and Carrie. The Dollangangers are initially imprisoned in an attic by their mother and horrible grandmother, and Flowers in the Attic tells of their incarceration and subsequent escape. Petals on the Wind picks up the story directly after their escape from the attic without one of their siblings. If There Be Thorns and Seeds of Yesterday continue to tell their story, but the focus shifts to Cathy's children Jory and Bart after a mysterious woman and her butler move in next door and start inviting Bart over, turning him into a monster. Garden of Shadows is a prequel that tells the story of the grandparents, Olivia and Malcolm Foxworth.
- Flowers in the Attic (1979)
- Petals on the Wind (1980)
- If There Be Thorns (1981)
- Seeds of Yesterday (1984)
- Garden of Shadows (1986) (started by Andrews, finished by Andrew Neiderman)
Stand alone works
- Gods of Green Mountain (1972), a science fiction novel, currently only available in e-book format.
- My Sweet Audrina (1982)
The Casteel series
The Casteel series was the second series of novels written by Andrews. The five books were published between 1985 and 1990. Two books were published before Andrews' death and three after.
The series traces the trials of a troubled West Virginia family, primarily from the viewpoint of Heaven, a young girl whose fourteen-year-old mother died during childbirth, and deals with her love/hate relationship with her father, who sells her and her half-siblings for money. The focus then shifts to Heaven's daughter Annie, named after her grandmother, and then to Leigh, Heaven's mother. It is the last series known to be started by Andrews herself.
- Heaven (1985)
- Dark Angel (1986)
- Fallen Hearts (1988) (started by Andrews, finished by Neiderman)
- Gates of Paradise (1989) ("inspired" by Andrews, finished by Neiderman)
- Web of Dreams (1990) ("inspired" by Andrews, finished by Neiderman)
The Cutler series
This series and all subsequent novels were written by Neiderman, but are attributed to Andrews.
Published between 1990 and 1993, this book series covers nearly 80 years of the history of the Cutler family. The first three books; Dawn, Secrets of the Morning, and Twilight's Child, follow the character of Dawn from her childhood to her marriage and subsequent return to the Cutler mansion. Midnight Whispers focuses on Dawn's daughter Christie. Darkest Hour, the last book in the series, goes back in time to focus on Dawn's grandmother, Lillian.
- Dawn (1990)
- Secrets of the Morning (1991)
- Twilight's Child (1992)
- Midnight Whispers (1992)
- Darkest Hour (1993)
The Landry series
This series of novels focuses on the Landry family; Ruby Landry, her daughter Pearl, and Ruby's mother Gabrielle (referred to as Gabriel in Tarnished Gold). The novels, set in the Louisiana bayou, were published between 1994 and 1996.
- Ruby (1994)
- Pearl in the Mist (1994)
- All That Glitters (1995)
- Hidden Jewel (1995)
- Tarnished Gold (1996)
The Logan series
The series follows Melody Logan from a West Virginia trailer park to Cape Cod as she helps her relatives deal with the problems they'd rather bury. Melody stars as the main character in Melody, Heart Song, and Unfinished Symphony. The fourth book, Music in the Night, tells the tale of Melody's cousin, Laura, who died before the events of the first book. The fifth book, Olivia, serves as a prequel to the series, with the main character being Melody's great-aunt Olivia.
- Melody (1996)
- Heart Song (1997)
- Unfinished Symphony (1997)
- Music in the Night (1998)
- Olivia (1999)
The Orphans series
The Orphans series focuses on the lives of four teenage orphans, Janet (Butterfly), Crystal, Brooke, and Raven, who are sent to the Lakewood House foster home.
- Butterfly (1998)
- Crystal (1998)
- Brooke (1998)
- Raven (1998)
- Runaways (1998)
- Orphans (2000) (omnibus)
The Wildflowers series
The Wildflowers series are about a group of girls in court ordered group therapy and why they were ordered to attend. The first four serve as prequels to the therapy sessions while the last one deals with what happened after. The sixth book is the collection of the first four stories in the series.
- Misty (1999)
- Star (1999)
- Jade (1999)
- Cat (1999)
- Into the Garden (1999)
- The Wildflowers (2001) (omnibus)
The Hudson series
The Hudson series tells the story of Rain Arnold Hudson, a child conceived in a biracial affair between a black man and a wealthy white woman. Her story is told in Rain, Lightning Strikes, and Eye of the Storm. The fourth book, The End of the Rainbow, is the story of her daughter Summer. The series had ended with only four books until a prequel, titled Gathering Clouds, was announced. The book will be released alongside the movie adaptation of Rain and will reveal the story of Rain's birth mother.
- Rain (2000)
- Lightning Strikes (2000)
- Eye of the Storm (2000)
- The End of the Rainbow (2001)
- Gathering Clouds (2007, to be contained with the Rain movie DVD, released on May 29, 2007)
The Shooting Stars series
The Shooting Stars series tells the stories of four girls, each with a different background, upbringing, and talent. The first four books each focus on one of the girls, Cinnamon, an actress who deals with her domineering grandmother, Ice, a vocalist whose mother wishes she never had a daughter, Rose, a dancer who deals with the ramifications of her father's suicide, and Honey, a violinist whose grandfather sees a sin in everything she does. The final book is Falling Stars, told from Honey's point of view, in which the four girls meet at the Senetsky School for the Arts in New York where they try to uncover the secrets of their instructor, Madame Senetsky.
- Cinnamon (2001)
- Ice (2001)
- Rose (2001)
- Honey (2001)
- Falling Stars (2001)
- Shooting Stars (2002) (omnibus)
The DeBeers series
The DeBeers family series is the story of Willow DeBeers, who learns from her cruel stepmother that her real mother had been a patient of her father's. The first two books, Willow and Wicked Forest cover her meeting with her mother and half-brother in Palm Beach, Florida, her marriage which ends on a sour note, and the birth of her daughter Hannah, who is the main character in Twisted Roots. Into the Woods is the first prequel to the series about Grace, Willow's mother, and what led to her being admitted to the hospital. Hidden Leaves and Dark Seed are both told from the perspective of Willow's father, Claude, and tell how he met Grace and how Willow was born. Interestingly, some novels in the DeBeers series feature letters from characters from other V.C. Andrews novels, such as Ruby Landry and Annie Stonewall.
- Willow (2002)
- Wicked Forest (2002)
- Twisted Roots (2002)
- Into the Woods (2003)
- Hidden Leaves (2003)
- Dark Seed (2001) [an e-book now printed inside copies of Hidden Leaves]
The Broken Wing series
The Broken Wing series is about three juvenile delinquents, Robin Taylor, Teal Sommers, and Phoebe Elder, who each act out for various reasons. They are sent to Dr. Foreman's School for Girls, run by the abusive Dr. Foreman, in an isolated part of the Southwest.
- Broken Wings (2003)
- Midnight Flight (2003)
The Gemini series
The Gemini series follows Celeste, a young girl who is forced to take on the identity of her dead twin brother Noble by her New-Age fanatic mother. Celeste's story is followed in Celeste and Black Cat. The third book, Child of Darkness, is about Celeste's daughter Baby Celeste.
- Celeste (2004)
- Black Cat (2004)
- Child of Darkness (2005)
The Shadows series
The Shadows series is about a teenage girl named April Taylor, who is short, not overly talented or popular, and fat. The first book focuses on April's relationship with her athletic older sister Brenda and the deaths of their parents. The second book focuses on April's adventures after moving in with a foster family in California.
- April Shadows (2005)
- Girl in the Shadows (2006)
Early Spring series
The only book in the VC Andrews novel to feature a little girl throughout the book. Jordan March, unlike every other of VC Andrews characters who are sixteen or twelve, starts out as six, then turns seven. It's about a little girl who is developing too fast.
- Broken Flower (October 2006)
- Scattered Leaves (Feb 27, 2007)
According to Neiderman, this series will "follow the story of two small-town girls, a murder, and the attic they use and develop into something very special." Neiderman explains that the two books were slightly inspired by a true story.
- Secrets in the Attic (September 2007)
- Secrets in the Shadows (April 2008)
- Delia's Crossing (September 2008)
- Delia's Heart (December 2008)
- Delia's Gift (February 2009)
- Heavenstone Secrets (2009)
- Secret Whispers (March 2010)
Short stories (ghost-written by Neiderman, inspired by Andrews' artwork)
- Cage of Love (2001)
- The Little Psychic (2001)
The Kindred Series
- Daughter of Darkness (2010)
- Daughter of Light (Oct. 2012)
- Family Storms (2011)
- Cloudburst (2011)
- Into the Darkness (2012)
Forbidden Sister Series
- The Forbidden Sister (2013)
- Roxy's Story (2013)
- Estate of Andrews v. United States, 850 F.Supp.1279 (E.D. Va. 1994)
- "V. C. Andrews (1923–1986) from Dictionary of Virginia Biography (Library of Virginia)". Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. June 15, 2009. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
- Her Dark Materials by Emily Bazelon, Slate magazine, December 6, 2007
- The Complete V.C. Andrews
- Virginia Andrews at Fantasticfiction.co.uk
- The V.C. Andrews Cover Gallery at madteaparty.dreamhosters.com
- V.C. Andrews Wiki