Thursday 23 January 2014

Recap: Garden of Shadows By Virginia Andrews, Part 2

Read Part 1 here. 
Read my (rather confused) thoughts on enjoying problematic things like theses books here. Thanks to everyone who commented on this, by the way. I think upon reflection what it boils down to is that these books are larger-than-life fantasy - they are gothic horror/fairy tales, and enjoying them doesn't hurt others. As long as the snark sticks to the way in which the books handle the subject matter, not the subject matter itself, it can actually be a good thing. I think. Anyway, on with the recap...

Olivia, having woken up the day after her wedding to an absent husband and an in tact V-Card, descends the grand staircase to meet her servants, picturing herself as an Amazonian Queen instead of a hag for once. She gives the servants sass to show how important she is. Then she realises they know more about her husband than she does and she's back to feeling lonely and hag-like once again. 

To pass the time, she decides to explore the place that is now her home. She finds herself drawn to Malcolm's mother's room, of the infamous SWAN BED, and is shocked by how opulent and pink and mauve it all is. She wonders if this is the kind of woman Malcolm wants her to be - all sensual and pretty and stuff - because you should totally get ideas on what your husband wants in the bedroom from his mother's.

Turns out she's pretty accurate though because Malcolm catches her on the SWAN BED and gets mad before revealing his mother didn't actually die, as Olivia previously believed, but abandoned him when he was five to run off with her lover because she was beautiful and therefore stupid and also the Sluttiest Slut Who Ever Slutted (actually the word he used was "harlot" but that's what he really meant). He admits he married Olivia because she would never abandon him because remember she looks like this:

Then Malcolm rapes Olivia on his mother's bed while crying out his mother's name. I forgot how much sexual assualt there is in these books. It is really horrible.

Olivia cries herself to sleep in her own bed while deciding she will be the best wife she can be, and it's heartbreaking. The next day both she and Malcolm act like nothing happened, and Malcolm announces they're going to have a party the following night to celebrate their wedding. Olivia is frozen out of the preparations and decides to wander the house again. This time she comes across THE room adjoining the attic and immediately thinks "this would be the perfect place to hide someone away". As you do. And she goes up to the attic so clearly her claustrophia hasn't hit yet, although she does rush out of there when she has a flashback to being locked in a closet by her mother when she was a kid. It's a bit of a surprise because so far she's mentioned nothing but positive things about her mum. I can't remember if this is explored further later on - I guess I'll find out soon!

The next evening Olivia is excited about the party but that lasts all of five minutes because all the women are tiny and pretty (and obviously stupid) and wearing dresses that are ABOVE THE KNEE. And everyone is bored of her and makes fun of her behind her back but she can totally hear them. Malcolm of course acts as a husband should by ignoring his wife and licking food off other women's fingers, and then disappearing into the library with one of them and coming out very rumpled.

Olivia is understandably incredibly hurt and goes to bed to cry herself to sleep. Sweet, sensitive Malcolm chooses this moment to come into her room naked, command her to give him a son, and rape her once again. It is really, really awful. When Olivia tries to get him to say or do something nice he says that that mushy stuff is for harlots and sluts like his mother and he doesn't want to hear about it ever again.

Nine months and two weeks later Olivia gives birth to a son, Malcolm Jr a.k.a. Mal. Her husband is so satisfied he proceeds to basically ignore his son. Then Olivia gets pregnant again because Malcolm wants a girl, but she has a really tough pregnancy and then has the nerve to give birth to ANOTHER boy who is also sickly and Malcolm takes it as a personal affront. To rub salt into his wounds the doctor says she won't be able to have any more kids, which Malcolm won't accept because he wants a girl and he always gets what he wants.

The years go by with Olivia doting on her sons and Malcolm ignoring one and openly hating the other. One day she gets a telegram saying her father has died, but Malcolm won't let her go to the funeral because it's not right for a woman to leave her children for even one night and I threw the book across the room in anger.

He finally lets her go but she's five hours too late and all that's left is to learn the conditions of her father's will, in which she realises he knew how awful Malcolm was because he made sure he wouldn't get any of her money. She also reveals all her heartbreak to her creepy cousin John Amos and a beautiful friendship is born.

Back at home, Malcolm drops the bombshell that his dad is moving back into Foxworth Hall with his new wife. Olivia expects that this means she and Malcolm will get their own home with their kids, and Malcolm laughs it off. Because nothing can go wrong in this scenario.

And by now my heart has completely broken for Olivia and I'm kind of overwhelmed by all the abuse. Malcolm is frontrunner for my just-invented Worst of the Worst Men Of VC Andrews Award. And that's saying something.

Next time: Malcolm finds a new mother to obsess over.


  1. I remember reading these books when I was younger. I plan on revisiting the series next month.

    1. It's quite entertaining and also a little infuriating to revisit.

  2. The book that made us feel sorry for all the bad things we thought about the grandmother in the first book!

  3. OMG, I just stumbled upon this today and I am loving it. I totally remember these books as a preteen. I can't wait to finish this recap!