Secrets of the Morning
This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages)(Learn how and when to remove this template message)
First edition cover
|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) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
Dawn Cutler is 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 is already prejudiced against Dawn due to a letter from Grandmother Cutler, who calls Dawn '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.
Dawn studies singing with Michael Sutton, a famous opera singer. The lessons gradually become more and more intimate. Dawn is confused by Michael's attentions and his treatment but does not know where to turn for advice. Michael eventually seduces Dawn and fills her head with ideas of them singing together on the stage. Dawn is completely taken in by this and believes everything he tells her. It is not long before she discovers she is pregnant with Michael's baby. When she tells him, he seems happy and promises that they will marry and she will still have the career he promised her. The next time she goes to his apartment, Dawn finds that Michael has disappeared, leaving no forwarding address or message for her. She realises he has abandoned her and that she is alone, pregnant and has nowhere to go. On her way back to the boarding house, she is hit by a car. When she wakes up in hospital, Grandmother Cutler is there. Grandmother Cutler tells Dawn that she knows about the pregnancy and that Dawn's life in New York is over. Dawn is sent to Grandmother Cutler's family plantation, The Meadows, for the duration of her pregnancy. Dawn is bundled off to Virginia immediately after being released from hospital, unable to say goodbye to Trisha.
Luther, the family handyman, picks Dawn up from the bus station, and drives her to the isolated, dilapidated plantation. Grandmother Cutler's older sister Emily is waiting for them and with her is the younger sister, Charlotte. Charlotte is mentally disabled, but quite friendly. By contrast, Emily is hostile and tells Dawn that she is an embarrassment to the family and has been sent to The Meadows in order to avoid any scandal. Emily keeps Dawn in a small, stuffy, window-less room and insists that she use an ancient oil lamp, with only kerosene to last her one week. Although The Meadows does have electricity, Emily refuses to turn it on because of the expense. She makes her grand-niece do nearly all the housework, including physical tasks such as scrubbing the floors and carrying heavy objects. She even feeds Dawn castor oil in an attempt to induce a miscarriage.
Despite the abuse, Dawn carries the baby full term and gives birth to a 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 and asks for her baby, Emily tells her that the baby was born too small, leading Dawn to believe the baby has died. Secretly, Grandmother Cutler has arranged for Dawn's baby to be adopted and while Dawn sleeps, the baby has been taken to her new adoptive parents. When she wakes 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 Dawn's surprise, Jimmy shows up on the doorstep. He says he became concerned when Dawn didn't respond to his letters and that it was Trisha who told him what had happened. Jimmy interrogates Emily, forcing her to reveal that Grandmother Cutler arranged for Christie to be adopted. Dawn tries to apologize to Jimmy for what happened, but Jimmy says that he forgives her because she was taken advantage of.
Dawn discovers that Grandmother Cutler has suffered a stroke. She goes to the hospital and demands to know where her daughter is but Grandmother Cutler dies without revealing Christie's location, only stating that Dawn is her "curse". At the reading of her grandmother's will, Dawn finally discovers the real reason for her "kidnapping": her mother was raped by her father-in-law and she is the product of that rape. Dawn's grandfather had specified a certain part of his will only be read after the death of his wife: it not only reveals that he is Dawn's biological father but that he also left her a significant part of his fortune and his ownership of Cutler's Cove Hotel. Dawn confronts Laura Sue about the rape and about the fact she lied about what happened, but her mother refuses to speak about it, preferring to talk about Dawn being the de facto owner of the hotel and saying that she will need help if she wants to run things the 'proper way'. Disgusted, Dawn says she has no intention of listening to her mother about anything, adding that she wouldn't care if the hotel burned to the ground. The book ends with Dawn and Jimmy leaving to retrieve Christie.
- 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.