Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers: A Novel
The Victorian language of flowers was used to express emotions: honeysuckle for devotion, azaleas for passion, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it has been more useful in communicating feelings like grief, mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen, Victoria has nowhere to go, and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. When her talent is discovered by a local florist, she discovers her gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But it takes meeting a mysterious vendor at the flower market for her to realize what's been missing in her own life, and as she starts to fall for him, she's forced to confront a painful secret from her past, and decide whether it's worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness. "The Language of Flowers" is a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about the meaning of flowers, the meaning of family, and the meaning of love.-Synopsis from Goodreads

When I was in high school I worked at Target. I made friends with a male co-worker who was about ten years older than I was. He developed a bit of a crush on me and went so far as to send me a bouquet of flowers with a note that each flower held a special meaning. All I had to do was look them up. Of course I did (curiosity killed the cat you know). I was appropriately creeped out as I'd never thought of him in that way and he was far too old for my minor self. Needless to say, I found another male friend who was willing to pose as my boyfriend and let this guy know in no uncertain terms that I was off-limits. Just your average high school drama-rama. 

Other than giving me my first chance to fend off unwanted affection, this experience opened my eyes to the hidden meaning in each and every flower. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is about one former foster child who feels most comfortable communicating though flowers. Victoria has been though a lot in her eighteen years and has trouble interacting with other people. After being emancipated out of the foster system, she finds herself homeless, living in a park and tending a small makeshift garden there until she meets a florist who gives her a job. Her services end up in high demand as she allows the message that each customer is trying to send dictate the flowers used in each arrangement with fantastic results. 

When she meets someone from her past in the flower market, it sends her on a journey of forgiveness and healing. Her story is difficult and heart-breaking but her love of flowers and her dedication to their meanings is what drives her and keeps her going when everything falls apart. The story is beautifully written and I flew right through it soaking up the meanings of all these beautiful flowers. Simply put, it was fabulous and I highly recommend this stunning story.

1 comment:

Italia said...

Vanessa Diffenbaugh's novel The Language of Flowers is the best fiction I've read this year. So good that I didn't want to stop reading it, I'd tell myself just one more chapter and then get upset because I didn't want to leave her character, Victoria, without finding out what happened next. From the opening chapter, Victoria's story grabbed me emotionally. The beauty and the tragic realness of her character, the way she interacted with the people in her life, her heartbreaking hopefulness and self-sabotaging behavior kept me wishing that someone would see below the surface and bring healing to her wounded soul.

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