REVIEW: Dawn (Cutler Saga #1) by, VC Andrews

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(Daddy & Momma Longchamp, Dawn, Phillip Cutler, Jimmy Longchamp & Baby Fern)

~ Synopsis ~

In her fine new Virginia school, Dawn Longchamp feels happy and safe. But nothing is what it seems… Now Dawn and her older brother Jimmy have a chance for a decent, respectable life, and Dawn’s secret, precious hope to study singing can come true. Philip Cutler, the handsomest boy in school, sets Dawn’s heart on fire. She is deeply devoted to her brooding brother; but with Philip, she imagines a lovely dream of romance…

Then Dawn’s mother suddenly dies, and her entire world begins to crumble. After a terrible new shock, she is thrust into a different family and an evil web of unspoken sins. Her sweet innocence lost, humiliated and scorned, Dawn is desperate to find Jimmy again and… strip away the wicked lies that will change all their lives forever!

***
REVIEW

Ok – so I’m wandering around a second hand book store that’s so jammed packed from floor to ceiling that I can barely breathe through the dust/musty goodness. Because this is my favorite thing about old bookstores – getting lost in the stacks. But then, I come across a book shelf COVERED in nothing but VC Andrews books – which sends me back so fast to my adolescence I nearly had whip-lash. I use to have them all – littered EVERYWHERE in my bedroom. From the Dollanganger Saga to The Casteel Series, My Sweet Audrina – and then yes, The Cutlers. Because The Cutler Saga has always been my favorite.

From the age of 11 I had my nose stuck in one if not two or three of her books at a time. (If my mother only knew what I was reading – good lord!)

Seriously though – so serious I made this meme:

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So as I’m digging through the stacks I’m happily surprised they have the ENTIRE Cutler Series – and I gave all of them for $.50 a piece. Because god knows where my paperbacks have disappeared too – over the last 20+ years. (Jesus that hurt.) I dove right into Dawn, and I completely forgot the simplicity of VC Andrew’s writing – even though The Cutler Series is written by a ghost writer, it’s still very much in her style; annoyingly simple, overly descriptive and at times? Just plain strange.

Because there’s something very odd about these characters. Somewhere – some how – siblings always end up in bed together. Why? I have no idea – but that always seemed to be her thing. Whether it was a brother/sister thrown together – making eyes at one another, finding out their truly not blood related then falling in love? It’s still really fucking weird – I’m adopted ok? Neither of my brother’s and I are blood related – I wouldn’t all of a sudden look at either of them and think hey, I’m single, he’s single ….

Yeah no –

But I digress – getting off subject here. The Cutler Series starts with Dawn. Dawn and her brother Jimmy – living a vagabond lifestyle with two very poor parents – a father that works and when depressed drinks most of his earnings away leaving them starving and living off of grits and peas – a mother who is sickly through the majority of the story – and Dawn & Jimmy – two adolescence kids that have been moved around so much in their short lives – they could pack their bags at the drop of a hat – in the middle of the night, half asleep. They’re so poor in fact, Dawn and Jimmy share the bed on the pull out sofa, leaving the sole bedroom to their parents. But when Daddy Longchamp gets a job at a private school as a maintenance supervisor, things are looking up as Dawn and Jimmy enroll and have the chance at an education they could never have received before. This is where Dawn meets Phillip Cutler – a blonde god who all the girls in the school fawn over, one of the richest and most popular boys there. His family owns a large hotel on the coast – Phillip and Dawn get to know one another – date if you will, Dawn is growing up now, noticing boys, wanting to date and yet her parents don’t want her hanging around with Phillip. It’s not until something tragic happens that Dawn’s life is thrust into chaos….. more so than she’s known to this point. She’s ripped from the only family she’s ever known and thrust into an entirely knew life – one she’s not at all comfortable with – one that’s practically forced upon her.

There are so many secrets surrounding Dawn – her entire existence up to this point has been a lie and she doesn’t know who she can trust – or who she even is. Her father’s in jail – Jimmy and Fern are sent to foster care and Dawn is stuck in a situation she doesn’t know how to get out of – Leaving one brother whom she’s known her entire life – loved and cared for, to be thrust into the arms of another brother who can’t look at her as a sister – his desires running too deep to see her as anything other than the girl he’s wanted since they day she arrived at their school.

Just when Dawn thinks things can’t get any worse – more of the story unfolds sending her into a frenzy of emotions and giving her the strength to stand up for herself and set the truth free. Even if it hurts everyone around her.

This is just the beginning of a complicated and very dramatic story for Dawn – and as I read through this book again after 20+ years, I remembered why I loved them so much. They may be cheesy – and honestly sometimes just plain creepy – maybe it’s the nostalgia of reading them I love – who knows, but I’m still keeping on with the rest of the series until I find out what’s going to happen next, because I can’t for the life of me remember half of what happened in this series.

***
About the Author, VC Andrews

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Virginia Cleo Andrews (born Cleo Virginia Andrews) was born June 6, 1923 in Portsmouth, Virginia. The youngest child and the only daughter of William Henry Andrews, a career navy man who opened a tool-and-die business after retirement, and Lillian Lilnora Parker Andrews, a telephone operator. She spent her happy childhood years in Portsmouth, Virginia, living briefly in Rochester, New York. The Andrews family returned to Portsmouth while Virginia was in high school.

While a teenager, Virginia suffered a tragic accident, falling down the stairs at her school and incurred severe back injuries. Arthritis and a failed spinal surgical procedure forced her to spend most of her life on crutches or in a wheelchair.

Virginia excelled in school and, at fifteen, won a scholarship for writing a parody of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. She proudly earned her diploma from Woodrow Wilson High School in Portsmouth. After graduation, she nurtured her artistic talent by completing a four-year correspondence art course while living at home with her family.

After William Andrews died in the late 1960’s, Virginia helped to support herself and her mother through her extremely successful career as a commercial artist, portrait painter, and fashion illustrator.

Frustrated with the lack of creative satisfaction that her work provided, Virginia sought creative release through writing, which she did in secret. In 1972, she completed her first novel, The Gods of the Green Mountain [sic], a science-fantasy story. It was never published. Between 1972 and 1979, she wrote nine novels and twenty short stories, of which only one was published. “I Slept with My Uncle on My Wedding Night”, a short fiction piece, was published in a pulp confession magazine.

Promise gleamed over the horizon for Virginia when she submitted a 290,000-word novel, The Obsessed, to a publishing company. She was told that the story had potential, but needed to be trimmed and spiced up a bit. She drafted a new outline in a single night and added “unspeakable things my mother didn’t want me to write about.” The ninety-eight-page revision was re-titled Flowers in the Attic and she was paid a $7,500 advance. Her new-generation Gothic novel reached the best-seller lists a mere two weeks after its 1979 paperback publication by Pocket Books.

Petals on the Wind, her sequel to Flowers, was published the next year, earning Virginia a $35,000 advance. The second book remained on the New York Times best-seller list for an unbelievable nineteen weeks (Flowers also returned to the list). These first two novels alone sold over seven million copies in only two years. The third novel of the Dollanganger series, If There Be Thorns, was released in 1981, bringing Virginia a $75,000 advance. It reached No. 2 on many best-seller lists within its first two weeks.

Taking a break from the chronicles of Chris and Cathy Dollanganger, Virginia published her one, and only, stand-alone novel, My Sweet Audrina, in 1982. The book welcomed an immediate success, topping the sales figures of her previous novels. Two years later, a fourth Dollanganger novel was released, Seeds of Yesterday. According to the New York Times, Seeds was the best-selling fiction paperback novel of 1984. Also in 1984, V.C. Andrews was named “Professional Woman of the Year” by the city of Norfolk, Virginia.

Upon Andrews’s death in 1986, two final novels–Garden of Shadows and Fallen Hearts–were published. These two novels are considered the last to bear the “V.C. Andrews” name and to be almost completely written by Andrews herself. Her novels were so successful that after her death her estate hired a ghost writer. 

(via the author’s website)

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