No list of influential 1980s novels can be complete without a V.C. Andrews inclusion. When you look at the plots of some of them, it can be hard to believe they were so popular, however Andrews’s works have truly become classics in young adult and gothic fiction.
While most of the novels under Andrews’s name are the products of a ghostwriter, her most well-known books are all her own creation: the Flowers in the Attic series. But there is one other novel that stands alone as an original V.C. Andrews book, the 1982 standalone My Sweet Audrina.
Following the lonely and repressed Audrina Adare and her extremely dysfunctional family, the novel follows Audrina from childhood to adult life. The basic premise is that Audrina is the second daughter of a wealthy family, named after the first daughter who died a horrific death before the novel began. During the course of the book Audrina struggles to break free of her controlling father, falls in love with a charming neighbor boy (although this love interest hasn’t quite aged well), and battles her wicked cousin Vera and her twisted mind games.
Like the Flowers in the Attic books, My Sweet Audrina was made into a Lifetime movie, because Lifetime is the only network that could so successfully touch on the themes of family strife, violence, and gothic melodrama. So reach for your lace veil and get inspired by the dark world of My Sweet Audrina.
Bright and Dark
This book delicately toes the line between light and dark, good and evil, with very clear parallels between the characters. Audrina appears from the outside to lead a charmed life, but her father Damian provides her with a childhood that’s anything but idyllic.
A basic black dress and a bright yellow bag are perfect for all seasons, including summer transitioning into fall. Darken the look up further with burgundy Converse sneakers and lipstick, but add a touch of glamour with golden hoops, a hint to Whitefern, the opulent Victorian mansion that houses the Adares.
This look is based on Audrina’s loss of innocence in a surreal world. Audrina always remains a sweet girl at heart, even after all the tragedy and betrayal she experiences throughout the novel.
Start your Audrina-inspired look with references to her “chameleon hair.” A holographic clutch and a trendy “rainbow” highlighter will start you on your way. Bright pink shoes reflect the love Audrina finds with Arden Lowe (who, let’s face it, doesn’t deserve her) and a lacy white dress is symbolic of the innocence that is challenged by her coming of age.
Every tale of a tragic gothic heroine needs a villain whose evil rivals her goodness. My Sweet Audrina doesn’t disappoint, pitting Audrina against the manipulative and depraved Vera Adare. Jealous of the love and attention her cousin receives, Vera misses no opportunity to make Audrina’s life miserable. Even with all the bad things Vera does, you still have to feel sympathetic for her: After all, from birth, she has never once felt love.
Vera has an infamous scene where she returns to the Adare mansion in a fabulous green dress. This emerald one with an asymmetrical hem and strappy silhouette is sexy and unique. Pearl studs and black pumps are iconic while an animal print clutch keeps the look fresh.
My Sweet Audrina may be a coming-of-age novel, but do not mistake it for a book for children. It is dark and twisted and contains themes that are shocking and controversial to this day. However, those same themes are part of why this story hasn’t been forgotten.
So what did you think? Have you read any V.C. Andrews novels? Which look was your favorite? What book would you like to see next? Let us know in the comments below!