A Masterpiece of Prose


“Artists use lies to tell the truth. Yes, I created a lie. ” Alan Moore V for Vendetta.

I once read a blog entitled

” VCA s masterpiece of something thrives on manure “


Indeed, for what is actually an insightful look at Virginia’s work, It is marred by the fact that for all of the bloggers research and analysis , it is ultimately a V C A bashing fest.

This isnt the only instance, read any review or blog online and you’ll find the same. Heck, even the literary critics don’t get it .

The problem ? Many are put off by the prose ….

For example :

” Andrews’ craftsmanship as a writer. There can be an inelegance, awkwardness and immature tone in her language, and in the voice and dialogue of her characters, all of which can disrupt the fluidity of the reading experience and gives the impression of amateurish effort.  As a result, the book manages to skirt reputation as “good” literature.  Andrews’ style is so “out there” that a reader might not get past the road bumps in the technique to identify the intentions.  That’s how it was for me, until this year, when I realized that I had been focusing on the trees and not the forest “
Flowers in the Attic 2.0

Attic Secrets  Admin , Chris Hoffman, sums up the critics and readers views on this perfectly and responds with his own particular view

“One of the things that makes Virginia’s work so good and so magical…people love to shrug her work off as shlock, as trashy…but they are only too quick to judge, having knee-jerk reactions to the subject matter and flowery prose, it was all a brilliant literary rouse, under the surface horror…her work was so rich with subtext! The haters truly have turned a blind-eye to her genius way of telling a story.”

So what exactly is the problem with the prose ? What is this brilliant literary rouse that V C created, that academics have missed ?  What is it that the critics find annoying ?


Lorraine Elgar speaks to Neisha Chetty to find out more :

Ok, neisha so whats the problem with this prose ? Why do people not like it ?

Boy, I have I heard this one a million times,”flowery prose”, “purple prose”,  I guess the problem, Lorraine, is that this isn’t polished prose or Austerian enough to be considered serious work.
I truly understand the criticisms lodged.
The prose actually works quite well with the Dollanganger series and Audrina, but read once too often, it can antagonise readers.

Some even tuned out on the first read of the Dollangangers merely because as an adult you can’t stand childish phrases that grate on your nerves. It becomes irritating.

So, yes, the criticisms are somewhat valid. When the tone endured a little longer than it should have, it decreased the value of the work.

But the pure genius behind the prose made the book a bestseller.

Ok , but isnt the prose supposed to be childish ? I mean these books protagonists are young females – Cathy  in fita was still technically a child

Technically Cathy is an adult copying from her old memorandum journals … But what she is doing is reliving the past.

The fairytale prose is actually a facet of Cathy, how we would actually define her character … A girl who believes in fairytales, and never stopped wanting to believe in them.

” I was the kind of child who’d always looked for fairies dancing on the grass.  I wanted to believe in witches, wizards, ogres, giants, and enchanted spells.  I didn’t want all of the magic taken out of the world by scientific explanation.”

So the prose actually tells you something about the narrator itself.

Whats your perception as to why Virginia chose this tone ?

Most people pick on the prose but they don’t see why it was effectively used.


For one the fairytale prose actually makes it an easy read… You don’t have to have a lit degree to read and enjoy it.

And in many ways an adolescent mind can read and actually identify with it.

The prose is used with that impact of making you feel more. That’s what Cathy does, makes you feel.

You have to ask yourself
“Why do we have fairytales?”

As children we all read fairytales…. Cinderella, Snow White …


These are actually tales concocted by adults to carry some lesson for a child to absorb.

A child has a certain, limited understanding so an adult will tell them these stories, to impart a certain wisdom on to them..

The adult has to adopt a simple tone so the child will understand.

In the Dollanganger series, there’s a highly complex puzzle being explored.

Why is it that she is so largely ignored or dismissed as a soap opera writer ?


“I write mainly to entertain. I don’t think people want moral lessons; in fact, they come up to me and say, ‘You never make a moral judgment.’ That is one of my assets. Readers like the fact that I don’t say whether I am for it or against it. But if you read between the lines, you can tell…”
VC Andrews Faces of Fear Interview

The melodrama makes it more riveting, more compelling, it doesn’t isolate the reader. It’s not an elitist book.

However it does carry an elitist concept.

Why do literary analysts not pick up on this ?

Here Virginia’s prose is a test , to see if people can see the truth.

Her prose is a subterfuge, it’s like the princess trying to find a pea in a stack of mattresses.

You’ve got to feel there is something wrong… It’s intuition that tells you something isn’t quite right

“but I wanted to learn how you can be so intuitive, and so wary and suspicious, when everything seems perfectly normal to me.”
Chris Flowers in the Attic.

Essentially her prose is a lie, and people believe the lie because they think Cathy is an innocent child.

They got to experience Cathy, fall in love and identify with her but they couldn’t see the blatantly obvious, because they didn’t want to see.

For what she became.

Why do literary analysts not pick up on this ?

They’re looking for the difficult, for the sublime and they think the sublime is something that is only found in classical hard reads.

They’re looking for some thing complex not the simple.

And pure genius is simple.

People can be easily fooled and Virginia fooled them all.

So in essence …

“Artists use lies to tell the truth. Yes, I created a lie. But because you believed it, you found something true about yourself.” Alan Moore

Written by Lorraine Elgar
Theory by Neisha Chetty
Artwork by Lorraine Elgar

One Comment Add yours

  1. eastsidon says:

    A classical VCA novel can be compared to a human,

    we have

    1. The Prose : which is exterior, the skin or surface layer— which must be attractive enough to get someone to be interested in — flowery prose

    2. The Subtext – the layer beneath – the subsuface layer. It’s the flesh and bones, organs, the plot, the thoughts.

    3. The symbolic level – the higher level -the soul.

    Liked by 1 person

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