The Language of Flowers: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


The Language of Flowers qualifies as a No Chores Today (NCT) book. If you aren’t moved by this story in some way, check your pulse. You may be dead.

I hardly know where to begin. There is so much to love about this novel, the characters, the unique storyline, the writing, oh my! Vanessa Diffenbaugh gives us a glimpse of the foster care system and puts us right into Victoria’s situation as a foster child turning 18 who is getting ready to live on her own. But, she is a survivor. As we get to know Victoria, we also learn she has a well-defined need to be alone. She is most comfortable in a room, alone, with the door locked. We’re talking bathrooms, bedrooms, apartments, homes. It’s difficult for Victoria to trust anyone. All Victoria knows is that she can’t count on anyone except her social worker. Until, of course, Renata, the owner of Bloom, a flower shop, takes a chance with Victoria and both are rewarded.

But even more interesting than Victoria and her situation, is how Diffenbaugh draws us into the language of flowers. I had no idea that every flower has a specific meaning. And, really, who doesn’t love flowers? Forget your allergies. Who doesn’t love to look at a field of flowers or a lovingly tended garden? You pretty much have to be made of stone not to wonder at their creation, their ongoing beauty. Victoria had the good fortune to be placed with a foster mother, Elizabeth, who taught her each flowers’ meaning and how flowers can be used as a communication tool when words are too difficult or the right one is not available.

Throughout the novel, Diffenbaugh tells Victoria’s story from the present and from the past, weaving them together as people from Victoria’s life try to make her whole. Will Victoria be able to come to grips with what happened while she lived with Elizabeth? Will Victoria allow Renata, to help her establish herself as the master flower arranger she is? And, will Victoria allow Grant, a person from her past, to see the kind of person she really is and who she could grow to be? Almost every person in Victoria’s life uses flowers as a form of expression and communication, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but there are times when words just aren’t enough.

Take the time to sit down with this glorious novel that explores the foster system, motherhood, second chances, human frailty, betrayal, love and forgiveness. You will be amazed. - Wendy, Redbery Books, Cable, Wisconsin — From Wendy's Easy Chair 2

- Word of Mouth Book Club selection, November 2013

— From Word of Mouth 2013 - 2014

- Word of Mouth Book Club, November 2013

— From Word of Mouth Book Club: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

September 2011 Indie Next List


“During the Victorian era, flowers conveyed expressions of love and were often used as a form of communication. Victoria Jones, an abandoned child who has been evicted from many group homes, learns this language, and upon her emancipation at age 18, eventually finds a job with a caring florist. A chance meeting at a flower market forces her to confront her past and learn to love and trust someone again. Diffenbaugh's extraordinary debut brings forth in elegant prose the emotions of anger and mistrust, love and loss, and the possibilities for a second chance at happiness.”
— Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

Summer 2012 Reading Group


“During the Victorian era, flowers conveyed expressions of love and were often used as a form of communication. Victoria Jones, an abandoned child who has been evicted from many group homes, learns this language, and upon her emancipation at age 18, eventually finds a job with a caring florist. A chance meeting at a flower market forces her to confront her past and learn to love and trust someone again. Diffenbaugh's extraordinary debut brings forth in elegant prose the emotions of anger and mistrust, love and loss, and the possibilities for a second chance at happiness.”
— Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

Description


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
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.
 
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About the Author


To write The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh found inspiration in her own experience as a foster mother. After studying creative writing and education at Stanford University, Vanessa taught art and writing to youth in low-income communities. She and her husband, PK, have three children and live in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This is her first novel.

Praise For…


“Instantly entrancing.”—Elle
 
“[An] original and brilliant first novel . . . a mesmerizing storyteller . . . I would like to hand Vanessa Diffenbaugh a bouquet of bouvardia (enthusiasm), gladiolus (you pierce my heart) and lisianthus (appreciation). . . . And there is one more sprig I should add to her bouquet: a single pink carnation (I will never forget you).”—Brigitte Weeks, The Washington Post
 
“A captivating novel in which a single sprig of rosemary speaks louder than words . . . The Language of Flowers deftly weaves the sweetness of newfound love with the heartache of past mistakes. . . . [It] will certainly change how you choose your next bouquet.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“Fascinating . . . Diffenbaugh clearly knows both the human heart and her plants, and she keeps us rooting for the damaged Victoria.”—O: The Oprah Magazine (book of the week)
 
“Diffenbaugh effortlessly spins this enchanting tale, making even her prickly protagonist impossible not to love.”—Entertainment Weekly
 
“Compelling . . . immensely engaging . . . unabashedly romantic . . . an emotional arc of almost unbearable poignance.”—The Boston Globe

Product Details
ISBN: 9780345525550
ISBN-10: 0345525558
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: April 3rd, 2012
Pages: 368
Language: English