V. C. Andrews [also published as Virginia Andrews]
Christopher’s Diary: Secrets of Foxworth (The Diaries, Book 1)
Simon & Schuster (US, UK, CA, & AU: 28th October 2014)
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NOTE: My review contains spoilers. If reading this via Goodreads, they’re individually marked. Elsewhere, they are not, and also there are spoilers for Flowers in the Attic, Garden of Shadows, and the forthcoming Echoes of Dollanganger and Secret Brother. Read at your own risk.
P.S. Secrets of Foxworth contains mentalism/saneism/ableism/gaslighting, and SO MUCH SEXISM. Seriously, that diary is full of it.
Well, that was pointless.
I don’t say that lightly. I spent 2013 catching up on the V. C. Andrews books I hadn’t read when they were first published (from Celeste onwards), and some would say that was pointless. But it eased my Fear of Missing Out – even though the books ranged from pretty good down to rather offensive, most were middling. (I didn’t read the Delia trilogy, though. The books involving the French, the Forbidden series, were so negatively stereotypical that I’m too afraid to read how VCA writes about Mexicans.)
But first, some backstory. Bittersweet Dreams would’ve been published this year, but due to the success (apparently?) of the Flowers in the Attic telemovie in the U.S., instead comes this first instalment of “The Diaries” – Christopher’s Diary: Secrets of Foxworth. (Book 2 will be Christopher’s Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger. Book 3 is simply called Secret Brother, and though the narrator is not named in the summary, I have a pretty good guess who it will be: Cory.)
I was cynical about the change in publication schedule, but knew I’d read these anyway, shameless cash-grabs or otherwise. Secrets of Foxworth‘s cover declares, “Flowers in the Attic wasn’t the whole story,” which is technically true: Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, and Seeds of Yesterday followed it, as well as the Olivia-narrated prequel, Garden of Shadows.
But I learned NOTHING new from Secrets of Foxworth, which renders it pointless, and the cover’s declaration misleading. In an interview when Christopher’s Diary was announced, ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman explained that he wanted to recapture the feeling people had whilst reading Flowers back when it was first published. And thus Secrets is narrated by Kristin Masterwood, a distant Foxworth relative, whose father’s construction company will demolish what’s left of Foxworth Hall (it was rebuilt after the first fire, but there was a “second fire in 2003”, which isn’t further explained) and build a new place. Whilst clearing out the basement, the team finds a box containing only…Christopher Dollanganger Junior’s diary.
Kristin’s life is the stuff of beautiful, middle-class white people with a wealthy boyfriend who doesn’t pressure her into rooting. But mostly Kristin is consumed with reading the diary. Secrets ends with her agreeing to share the diary with her boyfriend, who will read it aloud to her while they’re in her attic, and they can “pretend”. So obviously the scissors stabbing and incestuous rape part of the diary will be in Echoes of Dollanganger, and likely re-enacted by them.
So with nothing going on in Kristin’s life, and nothing new discovered about the Foxworths, Secrets of Foxworth is anything but. Kristin hasn’t even learned the big secret from Garden of Shadows: that Chris Senior is not only Corrine’s half-uncle, but also her half-brother. (They have the same biological mother, and Chris’s dad is the father of Corrine’s dad.)
I still plan to read Echoes of Dollanganger (to be released in late January 2015), though. Hopefully that book won’t be pointless, too.
P.S. My in-progress status updates with direct quotes are on Goodreads – scroll down to “Reading Updates”.