How INCEST claims led iconic 'Flowers in the Attic' to be banned from many school libraries

How INCEST claims led iconic 'Flowers in the Attic' to be banned from many school libraries
Max Irons as Malcolm Foxworth and Jemima Rooper as Olivia Winfield Foxworth in a still from 'Flowers in the Attic: The Origin' (Lifetime)

Lifetime's 'Flower in the Attic: The Origin' generated quite the buzz, especially after the film, 'Flowers in the Attic' opened to immense controversy. There were two films of the same name based on the 1979 gothic horror novel of the same name by VC Andrews.

The four-part Lifetime series serves as a prequel to the film starring Jemima Rooper, Max Irons, Kelsey Grammer, Harry Hamlin, Paul Wesley, Kate Mulgrew, and Alana Boden in pivotal roles. The official synopsis says the series "peels back the curtain to reveal the twisted origin and dark secrets of the Foxworth family." It follows "the tale of Olivia Winfield (Rooper), a woman who finds herself unexpectedly wooed by one of the nation’s most eligible bachelors. After a whirlwind romance, Olivia finds herself as the mistress of the imposing Foxworth Hall, where she soon discovers that the fairytale life she expected has quickly become a nightmare."


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Why was 'Flowers in the Attic' controversial?

The book and the movie depicted the incest between an adolescent brother and sister, and that led to the book being banned in several areas. They were even removed from school libraries due to the "offensive passages concerning incest and sex". Chariho High School in Rhode Island and Oconee County, Georgia school libraries slammed the "filthiness" of the novel and scrubbed it from their sections.  The movie garnered mixed reactions from critics but was received positively by the audience. The book was a best-seller as well selling over forty million copies across the world.

The story follows Cathy and Chris Dollanganger and their little brother and sister, Cory and Carrie, who are beautiful, and happy as can be until things go woefully wrong with the death of their father. The mother tells them that in order to regain the fortune which she has been disinherited, the children must hide in their grandparents’ vast attic for a few days so she can persuade their grandfather to reinstate her as his rightful heir. What follows is the two are trapped in the attic for more than three years and one of them is killed after eating a poisoned donut.

But more than the tragic death, it's the news of the brother, Chris raping his sister Cathy who actually feels okay. “You didn’t rape me. I could have stopped you if I’d really wanted to," (via The Guardian). The drama in the book and the movie explicitly brings out the incestuous relationship between the two.



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Was 'Flowers in the Attic' based on a true story?

Andrews claimed that her book wasn't entirely fiction and that her book was actually based on true events while there was no official evidence to support her claims, her website suggests having contacted one of Andrews' relatives. Per the Wayback Machine, the account read, "Flowers in the Attic WAS based on a true story. Virginia was a young lady when my dad made arrangements to take Virginia to the University of Virginia hospital for treatment. While she was there, she developed a crush on her young doctor. He and his siblings had been locked away in the attic for over 6 years to preserve the family wealth. Obviously, she cut the time back [in her novel] to be more believable. That area of the country has a lot of very wealthy people. I do not know who they were."

'Flowers in the Attic: The Origin' runs over four weeks on Lifetime ending July 30. Viewers can also stream the show live or on-demand with a subscription to Hulu + Live TV.

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