Review: Forbidden Heart by Virginia Andrews
The Forbidden Heart is a short, eBook only sequel to Virginia Andrews Forbidden Sister and acts as a bridge between Forbidden Sister and the next full-length novel in the series, Roxy's Story. Set entirely in France (thus making it the only Virginia Andrews novel to be set entirely in Europe,) Fobidden Heart picks up where Forbidden Sister ends, it tells us what happens to Emmie after she was abandoned by her sister in Paris. She is now living with her uncle and his partner, has made a new friend in Denise, a young woman who works at her uncle's restaurant and has found a possible new love interest in Denise's cousin, Vincent. All good, right?
Well, not really. As a reader, I found myself struggling with the story quite a bit. I suppose some of this is my own fault, as I expected the story to be about how Emmie settled in to her new life in Paris. What I got was a slightly jumbled and unrealistic tale full of French stereotypes that ends quite abruptly. As scathing as it sounds, I suspect the only research on France that Virginia Andrews ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman did before writing Forbidden Heart was to flick idly through the introduction of French Women Don't Get Fat--and if you think I'm joking, there is a reference to this book in Forbidden Heart. A character central to the story, Denise, is a bit of a laughingstock and lacks confidence owing to the fact that she is, well, of the larger persuasion. We are expected to believe that Denise is the only woman in all of France to weigh above fifty-five kilograms and therefore she must be unhappy, and because she is unhappy and well, fat, no man is ever going to love her. But that's okay, because the only man Denise has ever been interested in is her cousin Vincent and he has always been nice to her. But, of course, Vincent isn't really interested in dating his cousin and he falls for Emmie instead.
Emmie, I might add, is slender and blonde. Make of that what you will.
Anyway, Denise gets depressed, one character attempts suicide and nothing really gets resolved at the end of the story. The whole thing is so removed from the real Virginia Andrews and her vision (dark, gothic inspired fairytales-gone-wrong such as Flowers in the Attic,) that one has wonder why one, the publisher even bothers to put her name on this rubbish any more? Granted Forbidden Sister was the first Virginia Andrews book to make the New York Times best seller list since the Logan series was released in the mid-to-late 1990s, and was actually half decent when compared to other recent releases e.g. the Heavenstone Series, Daughter of Darkness, however, it sometimes feels as though the publisher and ghostwriter are simply churning out tales about miserable kids or young women in highly unusual situations because they really don't know what else to do, but they know anything with the name Virginia Andrews (or V.C. Andrews in the lucrative US market,) slapped on the front cover is bound to make money regardless of the content. And before you accuse me of slamming the ghostwriter who for many years did a commendable job of imitating Virginia Andrews style and completing her unfinished works, while continuing to write novels under his own name, I'll say this. Andrew Neiderman does not lack talent. I find the way he moderates and speaks with the fans on the official V.C. Andrews fan page on facebook commendable. However, I think that he could do far better and is selling himself short. Or to put it another way, come on Mate, lift your game.
Bonus Question: Are you sometimes disappointed by books by your favourite authors. If so, which book and why?