Scattered Leaves - Virginia Andrews
After another visit to the library, I came across a number of books by Virginia Andrews, author of the bestseller 'Flowers in the Attic'. I have never read any of Virginia Andrew's books before though have seen the film of the above title and to be honest I was not that impressed, though I kept in mind that films are more often than not, not as good as the books they are based on, so I thought I would give her books a go.
Scattered Leaves, unbeknown to me at the time, is actually the second book in Andrew's 'Early Spring' series. I did not find this out until I found her book list in the front of the book part way through reading, though to be honest, this book read practically like a stand alone book. There are many mentions of past occurrences within the story though this is explained well in this book and also written as though it simply happened before the events of this story, not as though there was a whole other book. I am actually planning on now reading its predecessor as I quite enjoyed this one. It is a shame that I did not know that it was a sequel before I began though this did not interfere with the enjoyment of the book.
After a tragedy tears her family apart, Jordan March is sent off by her grandmother to live with her great aunt - the sister whom has been long forgotten by both her grandmother and the rest of the family. Jordan's great aunt Frances is the strangest, eccentric woman that she has ever met and as Jordan comes to terms with living practically alone in the run down farmhouse, she starts to wonder both about herself and the rest of her family. Why had her grandmother hidden away her own sister? What secrets does the old farmhouse hold? Did her great aunt grow up too fast like Jordan has?
Jordan is about to unearth some shattering truths about her family which will mean that life will never be the same again.
I have to admit that I was left with mixed feelings about this book. On the whole, I rather enjoyed it and read it quite fast, a few times not wanting to put it down, though I felt that I was expecting much more of a higher climax than actually occurred and when the ending did come about I felt a little disappointed. I am getting a little ahead of myself here so let me explain further;
The book is written from the point of view of young seven year old Jordan March, a young girl who comes from a rich family who has a body which grows faster than her age in appearance and other womanly values. This is obviously something which is very much explored in the previous book though as already mentioned, everything is well explained throughout this book also. This is something in which seems to be a big deal at first though gets a little lost within the story. I felt that even the writing of this child from her mind and understanding plus certain situations within the story was more of that of an older person well into their teens. The character just did not seem right for the story of her age. Although her body may have been more mature, her mind should not have been though I felt as though I was reading the story of a much older person. I mention this as there were many times in which we are reminded of her age though it just stands out and does not make sense in the story. This is slightly off putting and continues throughout the whole story so was a real negative point to me.
The characters themselves in the main were quite well rounded with some great background history - some of which we do not find out until the operative moment though more would have been understood with previous knowledge from reading the last book though I did not feel confused in the slightest as characters were mainly well written and well explained without giving a whole host of information which was not needed. The exception of course was the main character flaws of Jordan which are mentioned above.
The story itself was quite a sweet story with some small amount of tension and expectation. It was a very slow moving story, though, with not a lot happening for quite a while. Usually when this happens in a book, I tend to get bored though something carried on capturing my attention. I think this may have been the lead up to something I expected to happen near the end. I was not entirely sure what it was, which made a lovely little mystery, though as already mentioned, this unfortunately was a slight let down. The tension and story built up through the book very slowly until nearer the end when you could just feel the excitement and then it just seemed to end without hitting that high.
The setting of the story mainly takes place in one place - the farmhouse - with some exceptions of the school and the hospital via letters. Although the story felt very slow flowing, there were moments I felt was not made the most of. School scenes among others felt rushed - although the pace was rather slow like the rest of the story, the scenes themselves did not contain enough depth and were over before they had even begun which was a shame as these scenes could have brought a lot more in to the story. It felt as though the author wanted to add certain scenes to show the passing of time though they were detached from the main story and halted the flow somewhat.
There is quite a bit of sexual language and discussions within the story though this is not at all in-your-face and is written rather subtly. The whole sexual scenes became a little disturbing when I remembered this little girl was only meant to be seven years of age, though. These sexual scenes I mention are not at all graphic in the slightest and are more based on discussions rather than action though still - the girl is meant to be seven! It just did not really fit well in my eyes.
The readability of the whole story is very simple and runs well from cover to cover. It is not one of those stories in which you need to concentrate a whole lot which is great for a relaxing read.
Although disappointed in both the end and various aspects of the writing style, I did actually enjoy the book. If you read it without looking too much into it you can overlook the negative points easier, though the whole age problem with the main character is one big negative in which I don't think is easy to ignore especially with regards to certain scenes.
I am glad that I rented this book from the library as I would not have wanted to pay the full £18.99 RRP for it as it certainly is not worth this amount. This is the price for the hardback book. For a used paperback copy on Amazon, you can get this for as little as £1.18 (not including postage and packaging). This is a much more reasonable price and at this price I would recommend reading it as it is a nice little book though certainly not the best book I have read by far. I have not read any of this authors other books though there are many to chose from and will be reading the prequel at some point and possibly other books and hopefully her style improves in her other series'.