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Literature / Audrey Rose

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Audrey Rose is a 1975 horror novel by Frank De Felitta.

New Yorkers Bill and Janice Templeton seem to have the perfect life. They live in a gorgeous apartment building that still resembles the artists' colony it once was, Bill is becoming a major player at his corporate job, their sex life is amazing, and they eat at all the best restaurants in town. Best of all is their daughter Ivy: a charming and vivacious girl who is their pride and joy. But their perfect life begins to fall apart when a mysterious stalker enters their lives. This seemingly-disturbed man, Elliot Hoover, not only has a frightening obsession with their daughter, but he also claims that young Ivy may in fact be a lost and tormented soul trapped in a new body.

Was adapted into a 1977 film directed by Robert Wise, starring Marsha Mason as Janice, John Beck as Bill, Susan Swift as Ivy, and Anthony Hopkins as Hoover. A sequel novel by De Felitta, For Love of Audrey Rose, was published in 1982.

This work contains examples of the following:

  • The Alcoholic: Bill Templeton handles the escalating events by spending more and more time plastered.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Hoover records his sojourn in India in a journal. His stay with a family in a village near Benares starts out idyllic enough, but turns horrific as the family is all but annihilated first by famine and then by monsoon floods.
    • A milder example occurs with the psychiatrist who originally treated Ivy. She maintained a calm demeanor before the parents, but when Bill reads her observations years later he discovers that she was growing increasingly alarmed by the unexplainable things she was seeing.
  • Artistic License – Law: Arguably occurs at several points throughout Hoover's trial.
    • The most glaring example is when the defense calls a high-profile Hare Krishna leader to serve as an expert witness on the subject of reincarnation. The witness becomes flustered during cross-examination and tries to storm out of the courtroom, prompting the bailiff to restrain him. Hoover, outraged at seeing a holy man subjected to such treatment, intervenes and physically assaults the bailiff. After order is restored to the courtroom, everyone acts like nothing happened. In reality, Hoover would have been arrested and brought up on additional charges for his attack on the bailiff.
    • Believing a child is the reincarnation of your dead child is no defense whatsoever for kidnapping and would never be allowed.
  • Bittersweet Ending: All of the main characters are shown beginning to heal by the story's end, with the Templetons' working on rebuilding their marriage, Hoover resuming his spiritual studies in India, and Brice Mack, having seen the error of his selfish ambitions, is last seen arranging prayers for his deceased family and friends. Unfortunately, Ivy/Audrey has paid the ultimate price.
  • Came Back Wrong: Hoover theorizes that Audrey reincarnated too rapidly following a traumatic death, making the next incarnation unstable.
  • Fire Keeps It Dead/Fire Purifies/Let the Past Burn: All irrevocably and completely subverted. In fact, it's implied that Audrey Rose's horrific, fiery death is what prevented her successful transition to her next life and that if her death had been more peaceful or quicker, none of this would have happened.
  • For Want Of A Nail: The idea that all of this happened by tragic happenstance. Audrey Rose's death was an accident. The fact that her soul was reincarnated too soon and that she ended up reincarnated as Ivy was nothing she, Ivy, or anyone else could control. And Ivy's death was ultimately an accident. The real horror of the novel seems to be that your whole life can be destroyed by what amounts to a cosmic hiccup and nothing you could have done would have predicted or prevented it.
  • It's All About Me: Ivy's night terrors only occur when Hoover is physically in the same area as her. Once this is proven, one would think that if he really cared about her he would stay as far away from her as possible. He insists that the condition will eventually worsen whether he's around or not so it's better for him to be there to deal with it, but it's pretty obvious that he mainly just wants to be near the girl he believes is his reincarnated daughter.
  • Madness Mantra: When in the grasp of her night terrors Ivy babbles "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Hot! Hot! Hot!" endlessly, over and over again. These turn out to have actually been Audrey Rose's last words as she was burning to death.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Anguished by the plight of his friends whose village is flooded by a monsoon, Hoover attempts to draw on his substantial resources to bring aid and supplies to the region. His efforts fail when the bank is understandably suspicious at the sudden flurry of activity on accounts that have lain dormant for months and freezes his assets.
  • Scenery Porn: De Felitta spares no detail when describing Des Artistes, the turn-of-the-century artist commune-turned-apartment building in which the Templetons dwell.
  • Self-Harm: An intoxicated Bill deliberately burns himself with a match at one point in order to make a point.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Although Hoover's primary objective is Ivy/Audrey, his behavior toward Janice crosses into this territory.
  • Supernatural-Proof Father: Bill Templeton might be one of the most persistent examples in literature. Interestingly, while this trope is normally used to simply delay outside help in the situation until it's too late, De Felitta uses it to examine the fragility in Bill's relationship with Janice that neither of them have ever addressed before.
  • Walking the Earth: Following the death of his family Hoover did this for several years, mostly in India. Justified in that savings from his successful career bolstered by an insurance settlement made him able to afford it. After Ivy's death he resumes his wandering ways.
  • Zombie Gait: The original cover art depicts Audrey this way, making her look more like an evil force rather than a merely confused and frightened one.