Thursday, February 26, 2015

Julie's Review: The Language of Flowers

Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Series: None
Publication Date: August 23, 2011
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 336
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: I will never look at a bouquet of flowers the same every again
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!
Summary: The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it's been more useful in communicating 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 and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what's been missing in her life. And when she's forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it's worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

 Review: The Language of Flowers is a gorgeous book about how the meaning of flowers helps a young woman to heal from her haunted past. The book by no means is a happy story but it is a story of hope, forgiveness, unconditional love and romantic love.

Victoria hasn't had an easy life, shuttled between group homes she is now 18 and emancipated from the system. Victoria doesn't have anywhere to go, no family to rely on or to help her out. She is all alone. She sleeps in the park and plants her own garden of flowers. It is through flashbacks to her childhood that we find out how deeply she has been scarred. Scars aren't always physical, often they are emotional and these can be the hardest to move on from, which is her case. 

With having no marketable skills, she ends up helping at a florist shop creating bouquets for customers. Not only are they gorgeous but she takes the time to understand what the customer is really hoping for and gives them the flowers to help realize their needs. As Victoria begins to research flower meanings, she starts to notice that often there is more than one meaning and sometimes those meanings contradict each other, much like life.

Victoria is someone who is easy to root for but as a reader you can also see how she would be difficult to deal with at times. She's not trusting and she's extremely closed off. It isn't until she learns to forgive herself for her past, that she can begin to heal.

Ms. Diffenbaugh does a fantastic job of slowly revealing Victoria's past. With alternating chapters you really begin to see how her past has shaped the young woman she is today. It is also how you keep rooting for her. The prose in this novel is exquisite and the history of the meaning of flowers will make readers take pause the next time they receive a bouquet to want to look up the flowers and their meanings. I really do wonder if this is a lost art but since I don't work in the flower industry, I can't really say.

She opens up Victoria throughout the novel as if a rose is just starting to bloom. It is slow and methodical but beautiful.

I am happy that I made time to read this gorgeous novel but I'm sorry it sat on my shelf for 3 years. I can't wait to read Ms. Diffenbaugh's next book, which is due out August 2015. I won't be waiting 3 years to get to this book.



OnDBookshelf February 26, 2015 at 1:33 PM  

Oh how I loved this book when I read it! I went through lots of tissues about 3/4 of the way through (you know the part if you read it). The glossary of flowers at the end is wonderful! I had to go back and look at my wedding bouquet to see what all the flowers meant, and I told my husband to never send me yellow roses :)

Julie February 26, 2015 at 2:58 PM  

If I ever get yellow roses there will be hell to pay.

crimeworm March 8, 2015 at 7:27 AM  

This sounds really interesting - despite being not REMOTELY artistic, floristry is something I'd love to learn more about (not more about, just learn about, as I am completely clueless!) These hidden meanings are quite intriguing, and it's a shame they've been pretty much forgotten…

crimeworm March 8, 2015 at 7:27 AM  
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crimeworm March 8, 2015 at 7:27 AM  
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