In the final novel that depicts the chronological progress of this most unique family unit, V.C. Andrews offers the reader even more insight into the ways the Dollangangers have become intertwined and how these connections create unforeseen offshoots that rattle the familial foundation. Chris and Cathy Sheffield (Dollanganger) are back in Virginia, still holding onto their secret, though its strength is slowly waning. Invited back to Foxworth Hall by Bart, who is about to celebrate his 25th birthday, they have come to see that he is still the religious pillar who judges others. Having been willed this mansion in his grandmother’s will, Bart has rebuilt it to reflect the days of old, not knowing some of the painful memories that it evokes. Jory and his wife, Melodie, are back as well, ready to help Bart celebrate, though always dodging his moralistic speeches. When Cindy arrives to celebrate with her brother, she is no longer the little girl the reader will remember, but a voluptuous teenage knockout who turns heads everywhere she goes. Bart has many surprises for the family, none more so than the revelation that one of Malcolm Foxworth’s sons, presumed dead, was actually alive and in hiding. Uncle Joel is as judgemental as Bart, with his past as a monk, and ready to keep the Sheffields in line. When Melodie admits that she is pregnant and will not be able to dance with Jory in a special ballet for the birthday celebrations, Cindy steps in. However, something goes tragically wrong and Jory is seriously hurt, leaving him unable to walk. As sly as he is judgmental, Bart hones in on Melodie’s ache, as Jory has lost his ability for intimacy, and he takes up with her. Shocked to discover them, Cathy can only wonder if the family curse is coming to pass yet again. Were that not enough, Cindy’s teenage brain has her wanting to give in to all the lustful thoughts that cross it, allowing the boys to dominate her curves and alluring body. When Melodie goes into labour, she cannot wait to rid herself of what is inside her, admitting that she never wanted to be a mother. Jory suffers not only with his paralysis, but upon hearing this must wonder if he chose the wrong woman to stand beside him. Melodie flees Foxworth Hall as soon as she can, leaving Jory and the rest of the Sheffields to raise the next generation. While Bart is still as critical as ever, he sets his sights on a new conquest, hoping that this will finally meet all the needs he has rummaging around inside him. However, Foxworth Hall and these Dollanganger offspring seem never to be able to take the easy road. Andrews brings some interesting finality to this series, spinning new and dastardly webs to a family that has seen so much over the past number of years. Series fans who have made it this far will likely enjoy this final piece, but there is no end to the odd storylines that have turned many readers away.
As V.C. Andrews brings this highly controversial series to a close, she does so with a bang for her fans. While the series remains part of the ‘young adult horror’ genre, the plots have held my attention and not been too corny. I know some have steered away from this series and tell me they are surprised that I have not left it to fade from my memory, but I wanted to say that I made it to the end, tying up all the loose ends left throughout. Bart plays a central role in this piece, if only because he is tapping into the religious and moralistic code left by his great-grandfather and Foxworth patriarch, Malcolm. This young man speaks of a world of sin and duplicity, then rushes off to act in such a way that the reader is left to scratch their head. With no one safe from his ‘fire and brimstone’ sentiments, characters must dodge his comments on most anything while living under the roof of his exceptional mansion. Jory’s debilitating accident offers new challenges and development for this other central character, as he learns to live without the use of his legs and is forced to watch his wife turn to another man—his brother, no less—to find sexual comfort. Jory is determined to make something of himself and be the father he has dreamed he could be, even if everyone is discounting him. Chris and Cathy, long the central characters in the series, have grown closer throughout, learning the pitfalls of their romantic decision as well as seeing the children they raised make choices of their own. With many struggles found in more traditional family units, V.C. Andrews tosses struggle and joy at this two, as she has done throughout the series. With plots and tangential storylines throughout, Andrews thickens the plot until the very end, leaving the reader to wonder what is around the corner for them in this unpredictable series. With many of the plot lines tied off—some in quite drastic ways—it would seem there is little else to know. However, Andrews is not quite done with this series, as she leaves the dedicated reader to wonder how things got started all those years ago. One final novel, a prequel, takes the story back to the beginning, long before there were children—or flowers—in any attic. I think we’ll head there to see what it is all about.
Kudos, Madam Andrews, for keeping me entertained throughout. This has been quite the ride since I took the daring plunge into seeing what the series was all about. Now, I am hooked and must see how it ends…or all began!
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons