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review 2017-05-20 02:14
Book Review: The Language of Flowers
The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Book: The Language of Flowers


Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh


Genre: Fiction/Family/Meaning of Love


Summary: Acacia for secret love, daffodil for new beginnings, wisteria for welcome, and camellia for my destiny is in your hands. In Victorian times, the language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions. 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 change at happiness. - Ballatine Books, 2011.


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review 2015-11-12 00:00
The Language of Flowers
The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh Earlier in the year, I read ‘The Little Paris Bookshop’ (Nina George) in which a bookseller dispenses books from his literary apothecary to treat each reader’s malady and/or melancholy – a book which I enjoyed. In ‘The Language of Flowers’, flora is used as the tool of communication. Each flower and plant is a symbol of something; sometimes, even the color gives a different meaning. I am fascinated by all things code and symbols, and I liked how just the sending of flowers alone conveyed messages (granted, of course, the recipients knew what they stood for). Even if they didn’t, the ‘power’ message contained in the giving or presentation of those flowers alone was enough to change things around, and rectify a situation – so likewise, I enjoyed this book. [This is akin to the ability attributed to spices in ‘The Mistress of Spices’ (Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni)] In addition, there is a flower dictionary at the end of the book, compiled and condensed by the author in her research of other such old/archaic dictionaries.
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review 2015-02-22 21:55
The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh

This was a great debut novel about connections, love and second chances.  Victoria Jones is a recently emancipated young woman who grew up in foster care system. She sees the world through hate and mistrust but finds that she has the gift to use the language of flowers to help others relationships grow.  When she meets someone from her happiest, and most painful part of life, she must face her past to determine her future.


This story was really good but parts of it really frustrated me.  I feel like the book was a little bit to long and dragging through the middle. Victoria really frustrated me through chunks of the book but I had to remind myself that she clearly has some mental health issues and was only 18. The story though and the way the mystery of her history unfolds was really interesting and beautifully done. I was really happy with the way the book ended I just wish it had been edited a little more so there wasn't so much drag in the middle. But flowers! I loved all the flowers, I listened to this at work (I work in a greenhouse) and it just made me happy to be hearing about all these flowers.


These are the things that specifically drove me nuts: Victoria is so incredibly selfish through most of the book and her choices rarely made sense. I never really hit a point where I could connect to her choices but I feel like this is a very personal issue that other people may not have so I'd still recommend it. But seriously the way she treats Renata with pregnancy and subsequent issues specifically bothered me. Renata's line "Do you really think you're the only human being alive who is unforgivably flawed? Who's been hurt almost to the point of breaking?" really sums up my feelings toward Victoria. I guess I was struggling with compassion for her. 


That being said I really did love that in the end she didn't just move in with Grant and Hazel and have a happily ever after but rather had a happily ever after that was more tempered and slow, having her own space in the water tower and slowly easing into the family connection that she missed for most of her life.  I just think that's more realistic and beautiful than an ending that was like "I love everyone and there will be no issues with me just diving into this life".

(spoiler show)
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review 2014-02-21 00:00
The Language of Flowers: A Novel
The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh This is another Amazon recommendation, and they are beginning to make a believer out of me. Certainly, I knew some flowers had certain meanings, but I was completely ignorant of the Victorian penchant for conveying coded messages in the guise of sending flowers, and when I saw Vanessa Diffenbaugh had crafted a story around this practice, I immediately added it to the birthday wishlist of books I gave to my husband. In The Language of Flowers, Diffenbaugh has created a story that is at times disturbing, at other times supremely sad, but mostly, it is a heartwarming tale of survival against all odds.

Whenever I think of the foster care system, I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I am sure many kids are happily placed and well-cared for, but I also know many are neglected, abused, unloved, and moved about like pawns on a chessboard. As a foster mother herself, Diffenbaugh is likely privy to more harrowing stories than readers ever will be, and she expertly threads this knowledge into Victoria’s story. With every new home placement and subsequent disappointment, Victoria despairs of ever finding a family and bit by bit her heart hardens over. I felt sick thinking about what these children go through, and how the system really does fail too many, and nevertheless, we all expect these kids to straighten up and fly right as adults, as if they’ve been given the tools to do so. An almost impossible task, for which many have no sympathy when they fail. I commend Diffenbaugh for shining another small light on foster care problems, uncomfortable though it may be to read.

Once out of the system, Victoria has a lucky break, and is able to translate her knowledge of the language of flowers into a career path. She meets people who care about and help her -- in particular, the florist Renata who gives her a job and sets her on her path. But the damage from childhood has robbed Victoria’s trust in love and friendship. As she shuts out the kindness of one person after another, it is sad and not a little frustrating to watch her sabotage her own happiness. And yet, her actions and responses ring supremely true for a person with her life path.

Throughout the story, Victoria continues to learn and grow in fits and starts, one step forward and two steps back, which seems natural. It is satisfying to see her growth, both in her profession and life in general, but I also like the way Diffenbaugh doesn’t wipe away all her problems and struggles like a fairy godmother even at the story’s close. The scars will always be there, just fading over time. Still, heartwarming Victoria’s story is, I worry a little that her success gives some readers the mistaken impression all kids can overcome their past. Hopefully not.

This was a beautiful first novel that married the unpleasant topic of foster care and how it fails some of our children with the romantic language of flowers for an unforgettable story.
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review 2013-11-18 00:00
The Language Of Flowers
The Language Of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh 4.5 star read

This is one of those rare books that simply gets better with each reading.
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