Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Woman Beyond the Attic: The V.C. Andrews Story by Andrew Neiderman

Title: The Woman Beyond the Attic: The V.C. Andrews Story

Author: Andrew Neiderman

Format: Hardcover

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publish Date: February 1, 2022 (Yesterday!)

Source: PR

What's the Story?:

From "Best known for her internationally, multi-million-copy bestselling novel Flowers in the Attic, Cleo Virginia Andrews lived a fascinating life. Born to modest means, she came of age in the American South during the Great Depression and faced a series of increasingly challenging health issues. Yet, once she rose to international literary fame, she prided herself on her intense privacy.

Now, The Woman Beyond the Attic aims to connect her personal life with the public novels for which she was famous. Based on Virginia’s own letters, and interviews with her dearest family members, her long-term ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman tells Virginia’s full story for the first time."

My Two Cents:

I have distinct memories of sneaking through the door between the kids and young adult section of my local library and finding V.C. Andrews' books. In middle school, I devoured so many of her books and fortunately had very tolerant parents that were just happy that I liked to read so much. So many of those stories stuck with me into adulthood but I really didn't know much about V.C. Andrews as a person and so I was really excited to get a chance to read this book, which I hoped would shed some light on this person whose work left such a big mark on the literary world and pop culture. This book gives you a peek behind the curtain.

The book is written by V.C. Andrews long-term ghost writer, Andrew Neiderman, which is a unique perspective and I wished that more of his opinion of everything would have been pulled into the story. Ghostwriting is fascinating to me but aside from a bit at the beginning, the book is truly focused on V.C. Andrews herself. The high points of the book are the places where Virginia's (as she was known by her family) words are included. Virginia was a fantastic letter writer who would frequently write huge, voluminous letters to her family members where her feelings and accounting of current events were laid bare. I loved getting to know her through the letters.

Because I didn't know much about V.C. Andrews herself before I read this book, I did not know that she faced a horrendous case of arthritis that made it incredibly difficult to get around and forced her to either her bed or a complex wheelchair that was hard to use. The book really gets at how much writing meant to her and the doors that it opened for her in spite of all of the hardship that she faced. 

The book does end quite abruptly and I wish it would have covered the aftermath of Virginia's death. For V.C. Andrews' fans, the book does include an unfinished manuscript for "The Obsessed" and it's an interesting inclusion that left me thinking of what could have been. This book whet my appetite to learn about V.C. Andrews but didn't satiate it and left me wanting more.


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