Yeah, that’s right. We’re back with another installment from the Queen of Gothic Trash, VC Andrews. To quote my lovely friend Kate (when she saw what I was reading): “Blast from the trashy past. In middle school we passed those around like 60s housewives with Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Oh so ridiculous, thank you!”
The truth is that I am usually 2-4 weeks ahead on my Trashy Tuesday reading, but this time I kind of slacked and had to figure out what I was going to write about at the last minute. Sunday, actually. I knew I needed a fast – guaranteed trashy – read, so Ms Andrews is kind of the go-to-gal for that.
Audrina Adare is seven years old with a memory like a sieve. She lives in a crumbling southern mansion with her parents (Lucky and Damien), her aunt (and her illegitimate cousin) and the memory of the First Audrina. She’s Audrina #2, her older sister shared the same birthday and was killed on her ninth birthday after not listening to their parents warnings about walking through the woods. Because the First Audrina was so good and perfect in every way (except for disobeying her parents that one time – a mistake she paid for with her life), our Audrina is constantly forced to sit in her rocking chair, singing so she can let the First Audrina fill her like a pitcher.
Sounds weird, right? Wait, it gets weirder.
Momma and Aunt Ellsbeth have Tuesday Teatimes every week with Aunt Mercy Marie. Mercy Marie disappeared several years ago on a mission trip to Africa, and is presumed dead and eaten by cannibals. Death hasn’t stopped the Whitefern girls from trotting out her photo each week and pretending she’s sitting there having tea and sandwiches with them. The sisters take turns making voices for Aunt Mercy Marie and use her to say all of the scathing things about each other they wouldn’t say otherwise. Audrina is forced to sit there with them and cousin Vera will sneak home from school to watch her mother and aunt drink their bourbon tea, get drunk and spill family secrets.
Vera is…kind of a bitch. She knows Audrina has a bad memory, so she’s constantly teasing her about things Audrina can’t remember. She says she knew the First Audrina, and that this new Audrina will obviously never compare. Vera is described as having apricot coloured hair and “Arab eyes,” which didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. But then…Audrina apparently has Chameleon hair and violet eyes (if you didn’t know, VC Andrews women often have violet eyes).
Vera has brittle bones, so she’s home frequently in casts and just lounging around tormenting her little cousin. Oh, and to save her the shame of being an illegitimate child, Audrina’s parents pretend that she’s their other daughter.
One spring day, Audrina blatantly disobeys the ‘don’t ever go into the woods’ stricture and meets a boy a few years older than her working in the yard of a nearby cottage. They become fast friends, even though Arden (really, could the foreshadowing be more obvious?) has haunted eyes whenever Audrina talks about how she can’t really remember her childhood. Arden’s mom is Billie. Billie is gorgeous (like almost all VC Andrews women are – they’re all beautiful on the outside, anyway), but has secrets of her own. She was once an Olympic figure skater, but someone left a bobby pin on the ice and she fell and cut herself on a skate blade. She didn’t heal and was apparently diabetic, so lost her legs to gangrene. Meg and I figured out who left that pin there, though. Hint: it’s the same villain we’ve used for all of these books.
Audrina, Arden and Vera are fishing one day. Audrina goes behind some bushes to change out of her bathing suit, but discovers that her clothes are missing. When she turns around to put her bathing suit back on, she sees Vera’s hand grabbing that, too. Arden offers to give her his shirt, but then discovers that his clothes are also missing. At that moment, Audrina’s father comes rushing out of the woods to see his naked daughter and a shirtless boy and he FREAKS OUT, starts shaking Arden and yelling about how boys are all the same and they only want one thing and blahblahblah. He gives Audrina his suit jacket, then takes her home. On the way, he tells her that there’s a witchy-woman at the house to determine the sex of Audrina’s unborn sibling. The witch can’t get a read on it, and tells them that what Mrs Adare is carrying is neither male nor female. Eep.
Even though she doesn’t remember turning 8, one day her father tells her that she’s turning 9 in the morning. She wakes up to find that her mother has gone into labour early, and that her parents have been at the hospital all night. Her mother dies during childbirth, and her father does not bring the baby home for almost three years. During that time, Audrina demands piano lessons and then to get to go to school like a regular girl. She gets both wishes.
Vera has an affair with the music teacher (and possibly Arden), the day that Papa brings home Sylvia we learn that she is “severely retarded” and that it will be Audrina’s new job to take care of her. Wait, what? She’s, like, 12. You’re going to give the care of a disabled child completely over to someone who is also a child? Top notch parenting there, dude.
Vera runs off to New York with the music teacher and Aunt Ellsbeth starts sharing Papa’s bed.
Years pass. Sylvia only likes Audrina and playing with these little glass prisms that Audrina found in the first Audrina’s room. She’s constantly flashing lights in the eyes of people she doesn’t like. Aunt Ellsbeth is about to take off to find her daughter in New York, but the morning she’s to leave, Audrina finds her dead at the bottom of the stairs. Damien decides to make it look like she wasn’t leaving, and Audrina runs off with Sylvia to tell Arden to marry her THAT DAY.
They head off to North Carolina for a quickie ceremony, and on their wedding night, all Audrina can think of are the dreams she’s had of her older sister being violated under a tree. She starts screaming, but Arden thinks she’s into it. They head back home a few days later to find that Audrina’s father has moved Arden’s mother into the mansion and that they’re all going to live together as a big happy family.
Vera returns from New York before Thanksgiving and Damien yells at her to leave. She falls, breaks her leg (again), so has to stay.
Legless Billie takes a tumble down the same stairs, and everyone assumes it was Sylvia who shone light in her eyes to make her fall. Two people dead at the foot of the stairs, this doesn’t look good for the Adares.
Audrina finds out that because of her frigid ways, Arden has been messing around with Vera. If she doesn’t start opening up (literally), he’s going to leave her. Apparently, this is exactly the impetus she needed to arouse her passions, and they get all hot and heavy in the garden. That night, she hears crying, so she goes to check on Sylvia and is blinded by prisms everywhere, then PUSHED down the stairs.
She wakes up a few weeks later from a coma, to hear Vera trying to convince Arden to pull the plug on her. Oi. For a few days, she makes no attempts to let them know she’s awake, just listens to them plotting. The day she’s to be disconnected, Sylvia puts her on Billie’s little wheeled cart and hauls her off to hide her under the First Audrina’s bed. Vera gets all ragey, but then everyone else realizes that Audrina #2 will be okay again. HUZZAH! But wait, there are still somethings she doesn’t understand. She starts questioning her father about why she could never remember anything about her past and it comes out that SHE WAS THE FIRST AUDRINA!
Yes, there was never more than one Audrina. She was gang raped on her ninth birthday, and her mother made her feel so ashamed about it that she was ready to kill herself. They put her through electroshock therapy to make her forget and then used sly tricks to make her think she was younger than she actually was. Days would pass and be months to her. She realizes that Arden was there to witness the entire thing (hence, the haunted eyes), but still doesn’t believe it wasn’t her sister, so she runs down to the cemetery to DIG UP THE BODY and prove it to everyone. Arden follows her and they fight, then have more steamy sex IN THE GRAVEYARD. So, guys – in case you were wondering, I figured it out. The penis is obviously the cause of – and answer to – all of life’s problems.
Oh, and Vera set the whole thing up because she’s actually Damien’s daughter (yeah, he did both sisters) and she was jealous that her daddy didn’t love her enough. She figured if Audrina got raped, that would be enough for NO ONE TO LOVE HER EVER AGAIN. Thank god she fell down the stairs and died too, am I right?