Review – The Language of Flowers

language of flowersThe Language of Flowers

by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Ballantine Books, 2011)

This novel follows a foster care kid, Victoria who moved around the system. It begins on her 18th birthday, emancipation day.  Each chapter alternates between now and when she was nine and adopted by Elizabeth, a woman who owns a vineyard and taught her the language of flowers.

This is a wonderful book about a prickly girl who really had a horrible childhood bouncing through the foster care system.  She would act out to get her foster parents to kick her out, like she knew they would anyway, basically a self-fulfilling prophecy.  While Elizabeth is willing to take her on, thorns and all, you know something happened down the line because she is living in a group home when emancipated.  This novel is about finding out what the event was and her figuring out her life now.  They are somehow connected.

At nine, when she finds out that flowers can be used as tools to convey messages, she becomes engaged and embraces the idea fully.

I thought about this. Misanthropy. No one had ever described my feelings in a single word. I repeated it to myself until I was sure I wouldn’t forget. (pg 77)

Present day, she still doesn’t trust anyone but has a way with flowers and has memorized their meanings. She finds work and finds something she is extremely good at. It isn’t until later in life that she realizes flowers can have more than on meaning.

Victoria is a strong character whose actions were quite upsetting to me, but she was acting by instinct, a defense mechanism of not trusting, or believing, or hoping in anyone because of what life has taught her. Though it is still difficult to read when she does something particularly nasty and the surrounding characters are amazingly sympathetic and forgiving.  I don’t know that I would have been able to be so forgiving and generous with time, patience and understanding.

I read this book fairly quickly, within two days, but I would get nervous about picking it up, because I was sad for the characters and wanted to avoid the big emotional scene I felt was coming. (I am a nervous-nelly when it comes to emotional conflict, chalk that up to being the oldest kid who was also the peacemaker). But it worked, tugged on a few heart-strings without being overly sentimental and seemed to end somewhat realistically. I quite enjoyed it and will be suggesting it for our bookclub. We will see if it sounds good to them too.  Four+ stars curiously resembling the following flowers, carried by a beaming bride down the isle. white carnation (sweet and lovely) with coriander (hidden worth) daffodil (new beginnings) and hawthorn (hope).


About ocdreader

I love to read! I always have a book or four going, I have more books in my to-be-read pile than I can read in a year and yet I continue to haunt the bookstores. I have a problem, but I somehow soldier on. I enjoy talking books, so pass on your recommendations and thoughts - I would love to hear them.
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5 Responses to Review – The Language of Flowers

  1. Cathy i says:

    I loved this book. Highly recommend it. Yes, difficult to read, but ending in what i hope is redemption

  2. beckyday6 says:

    Ha ha I’m the opposite, I love a bit of emotional conflict – in books only though, in real life I run and hide. 😉 Perhaps that’s why I like it in books so much, I’m experiencing things I wouldn’t normally.

    ‘Carnation (sweet and lovely) with coriander (hidden worth) daffodil (new beginnings) and hawthorn (hope)’ That’s so great! I’ll have to try and remember those, especially coriander I love the idea of hidden worth, I think there is a lot of that in the world. 🙂

    Great review, I’ve been missing them! I hope you feel a bit more replenished doing them now after the A-Z challenge, I know you were getting a little bored/frustrated with them before.

    • ocdreader says:

      It is funny, I was freaking out about the emotion that I thought would be coming, but it wasn’t as bad as I assumed it would be. Oh well.
      Definitely needed the review break and I enjoyed taking my time writing these last month. Of course, I finished a couple but somehow have around 10 still to finish – serious procrastinator over here! Sheesh

  3. jenniferbielman says:

    So happy you enjoyed this. It’s new to me, but I think it sound pretty interesting. But I am scared of how emotional I would get reading it.

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