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Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Language of Flowers (edition 2011)

by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

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2,088None3,148 (4.02)1 / 108
Title:Language of Flowers
Authors:Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Info:MacMillan (2011), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Your library, Currently reading

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The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh


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English (252)  Dutch (3)  German (3)  Italian (2)  Finnish (1)  All languages (261)
Showing 1-5 of 252 (next | show all)
A surprise delight. The fundamentals are unexceptional, but the execution is superb. Broken girl tries to overcome her disadvantages. Many setbacks on the way to redemption. Seems a common enough plot, really. But Diffenbaugh does something exceptional by weaving the language of flowers in a way that brings a whole new and original perspective to an otherwise predictable story. The main character, Victoria Jones, has magical gifts as a florist, ruined (almost) by lack of self belief. Some of the plot twists are a bit coincidentally convenient, but they are balanced by surprise developments that more than compensate. Refreshing to read a novel by a woman, about a woman, the is frank, unadorned and lacking any sense of gender exploitation.

In all, a very enjoyable read with a happy and hopeful ending. ( )
  PhilipJHunt | Apr 13, 2014 |
RABCK from hostile17; TLC book club read. Victoria is abandoned at birth, and grew up in foster care. Now at 18, she's aged out of the system, but has no skills to take care of herself. All she understands is flowers - and that's the theme that wraps around her getting a job, finding a boyfriend, building a business and finally understanding herself. ( )
  nancynova | Mar 29, 2014 |
I read this for the Idaho Writers Guild Book Club. I was afraid it might be a treacly romance, but found it to be an engaging, inventive book that dealt more with the hardships encountered by foster children. The protagonist is not always easy to like, but you do root for her. There was a long section about her personal hardship that may have gone on too, long. However, the fact that it was dragging on and not getting better was exactly the point. Bonus: You learn a little about the language of flowers. ( )
  RickJust | Mar 26, 2014 |
Victoria Jones turns 18 and leaves the foster care system where she has spent her entire life. Homeless and uneducated, she wanders the neighbourhoods of San Francisco, surviving on table scraps from restaurants. Using her one and only skill--a knowledge of flowers--Victoria wangles herself a job as a florist assistant. She soon meets a friend from her past and they strike up a romance over their shared love of flowers and their ability to communicate using the Victorian symbolic language of flowers.

Victoria returns to that past in alternating chapters where she goes back to when she was nine and had a chance of happiness living on a grape farm north of the city with Elizabeth. This second story has narrative and symbolic parallels with Victoria's adult narrative.

At first I found this book readable but sort of tedious. Victoria was a difficult character to empathize with, but then she's supposed to be damaged by her miserable childhood. After all, how can one love if one has never experienced love? I soon grew frustrated with the novel, however. Victoria's problems are caused by getting in her own way, and they are then solved by either coincidences or the kindness of others (who she has mistreated): Her boss routinely gives her packets of cash; Her roommate conveniently goes away so she can have the apartment to herself at a crucial plot point; She just happens to know a midwife when she has refused prenatal care or medical insurance, etc. Through all this she's pretty much a jerk to everyone she knows. Yet people constantly go out of their way to help her. I also rolled my eyes at how easily she started a phenomenally successful florist business.

In summary, [The Language of Flowers] was both implausible and predicable. ( )
2 vote Nickelini | Mar 25, 2014 |
This book started out somewhat strangely. However, after a few pages I really started liking it. It has a sort of "Lifetime Movie" feel to it, but it was nice to read anyway. It has a very predictable format and ending. The information about the "language of flowers" was something new for me. ( )
  yukon92 | Feb 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 252 (next | show all)
At first blush it sounds like something Dickens might have come up with, had Dickens been deeply interested in flower arranging.
In this absorbing and delicately wrought debut novel, Diffenbaugh heeds the creative-writing maxim: Write what you know. She has been a foster mother and has taught art and writing in low-income communities.This experience is discernible in The Language of Flowers. The idea that an angry young girl such as Victoria would actually be interested in flowers and their meanings seems implausible on one level, and yet Diffenbaugh uses to good effect the belief that evergreen hope lies nascent within most damaged kids.
In the end, she offers a cautionary tale about what happens to kids who've grown without families, one that strives to be honest but still hopeful. Children like Victoria may be able to survive on their own, but in order to do better than that - to thrive - they need support. But it's never too late to learn how to love.
added by Nickelini | editSF Gate, Malena Watrous (Aug 21, 2011)
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Moss is selected to be the emblem of maternal love, because, like that love, it glads the heart when the winter of adversity overtakes us, and when summer friends have deserted us. 
   — Henrietta Dumont, The Floral Offering
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First words
For eight years I dreamed of fire.
You can't poison me or give me medicine I don't want. Or hit me — even if I deserve it.
Now, as an adult, my hopes for the future were simple: I wanted to be alone, and to be surrounded by flowers.
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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 realise 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.
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When Victoria Jones starts working for a florist, she realizes her talent with flowers helps her change the lives of the people who buy her creations. But when she must confront her painful past, she has to decide how much she is willing to change.

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