Author: V.C. Andrews
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Copy: Borrowed from my Local Library
I have spent a lot of time over the last few weeks reading and not nearly enough time reviewing so now my stack of books to review is towering and I need to play a little bit of catch up, and I’m going to start with the most recent and work back. It also means that my reviews may be a little less in-depth than I usually aim for but we’ll see how we go.
The last book I finished was Christopher’s Diary: SECRETS of FOXWORTH and I fondly referred to it as the trainwreck I couldn’t put down.
I loved the Flowers in the Attic series as a teen and it was a series that I reread many times in my younger years. I haven’t read them in a long time but I watched the Lifetime movie, at least the first one, reasonably recently. I’m not sure if I would feel the same way about them now as I did then but just lately I have wondered if it’s time to take a trip back to the attic and where the series began (though obviously not the story).
Last year I discovered that there were more books in the series when I read and reviewed Beneath The Attic, of which there are two more in that prequel arc, and I think I’m invested enough that I will have to read them.
The first thing I have to say about this is it had no chapters and I found that really hard to get my head around. The book is split into three sections with one of them being the bulk of the book. The book switches between diary entries and the life of the diary reader so there are distinct, I can’t think how I want to describe it, changes or pauses which mark a place to close the book but they aren’t quite as easy to close on as Chapter breaks. This may not be an issue for other people but I really don’t like to close a book before the chapter ends and this made that very difficult.
Christopher’s Diary: SECRETS of FOXWORTH is the first in a new trilogy surrounding the Dollanganger children. The book is set in Charlottesville, the home of Foxworth Hall. It contains the contents of a diary written by Christopher, as well as getting to know the girl who found his diary, Kristin Masterwood
Kristin Masterwood is a 17-year-old girl being raised by her widowed father after the death of her mother in a small town ripe with rumours about the derelict Foxworth Hall, which was burned to the ground twice. Her mother was distantly related to the Foxworth’s but didn’t like to talk about the rumours of events in the mansion or the fact that the entire family seemed to be a little cracked.
Mr Masterwood owns a construction company and is employed to check out the ruins of the mansion and estimate on the costs of removing the debris and checking whether the basement survived because the bank has a prospective buyer. Like many of the teens in town Kristin has a fascination with the derelict mansion and the stories of the children locked in the attic decades before.
Kristin accompanies her dad to the property for her first close up look at the infamous ruin and wanders the grounds as her dad focuses on the building, they find a locked box under boards in the basement and all that it contains is an aged leather bound diary.
From here we alternate between Kristin’s life and entries in Christopher’s diary, which tell us the story of the Dollanganger children in Christopher’s words. I can’t remember the perspective we got Flowers in the Attic from but I think it was Cathy telling the story, now we get to hear from Chris.
His voice through the diary entries is quite mature, maybe a little old for his age, and he came across very differently than he seemed (in my memory) in Flowers in the Attic. There isn’t really any new information for fans of the series, just a different take on the story we already know. It paints a different picture of the characters and their motivations as Chris views them differently. He came across as very superior and full of himself but on reflection I think a lot of teens are so maybe he wasn’t as full of himself as I perceived him to be.
The main focus and the new elements of this story are in the present day life of Kristin. She’s a pretty average teenage girl with a special relationship with her father, it’s been just the two of them so long that they are very close and have a trust that many don’t.
We learn about Kristin’s relationships, her friends and her sense of loss at the everyday things she’s missing with her mother.
Her fascination with Foxworth Hall and it’s history grows the further she delves into Christopher’s diary. She becomes quite obsessed and it begins to take over her real life, which is probably quite close to the way many young girls devoured the fictional series. A little bit of art imitating life.
In the course of the novel we see Kristin withdrawing from her friends, yet still trying to fulfil all her commitments so that she doesn’t worry her father enough for him to try and take the diary away.
Kristin is a responsible young woman living in an affluent area where she is not nearly as well off as all of those around her, and her family dynamic is different as well. She feels the differences but they don’t set her apart, the thing most likely to do that is the knowledge that she is related to the Foxworths, and their madness.
She is a likable character and I have to admit that though this book didn’t set my world alight, I will be looking for the next in the trilogy to see what happens next for her.
I gave this one 2.5 stars because I was hooked, but I didn’t love it. The writing was okay but I don’t really know what it’s supposed to add to the story. It just comes across as a money-grabbing rehash and I think that the fact it’s a ghostwriter makes that harder to swallow.
It has been such a long time since I read the original series so I couldn’t say with any certainty whether there are inconsistencies, but they could be argued away. This book is told through Christopher’s diary entries and the rumours that circulate a town. It could be argued that any inconsistences are the product of a teenaged mind perceiving them differently or the rumours of a town suffering the Chinese whispers style distortion of the original tale.
I’m not sure whether I’d recommend this one, I wouldn’t read it again but it’s also not a book I regret having read. I’m not sure how I felt about it but I do know that I will read it’s sequel when it arrives in the library. I guess the Foxworth/Dollanganger family is always going to be a guilty pleasure for me.