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The Language of Flowers (edition 2011)

by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,1053361,822 (3.97)1 / 173
Member:Ephemeralda
Title:The Language of Flowers
Authors:Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Author)
Info:MacMillan (2011), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Your library, Fiction
Rating:***1/2
Tags:None

Work details

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Recently added byMaeCee18, private library, cdiemert, hbsweet, reader517, Nicnac63, Rena37, SusanneRepetto, BookHavenAZ
  1. 50
    The Language of Flowers: a Miscellany by Mandy Kirkby (guurtjesboekenkast)
  2. 20
    Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (tangledthread)
    tangledthread: Similar story of a young woman aging out of the foster care system.
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    KatyBee: Excellent writing, main female character has a very unique 'gift'.
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    How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (treadsowell)
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    Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses: A Memoir by Paula McLain (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Like Family is a memoir that traces the difficulties of being a foster child in California. Like The Language of Flowers, it provides readers with a moving account of young girls who triumph over adversity to find happiness as adults.
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English (333)  German (3)  Italian (3)  Dutch (3)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  All (344)
Showing 1-5 of 333 (next | show all)
wonderful book. This one I'd like to own ( )
  shadowdancer | Jun 22, 2017 |
Vanessa Diffenbaugh's debut novel is storytelling with ease. The writing is clear, but what is most beautiful to discover in this book is indeed the language of flowers and their meaning as originally dated back to the Victorian era. The writing is neither lyrical, nor poetic as its subject matter of flowers, their beauty or their bloom, but direct in a clear style of its author and personality of the book's main character, Victoria Jones.

She is sufficiently plain as her name, if only for her dire circumstances due to the nature of her birth and upbringing. In this, she is quite extraordinary, having no choice, but to be orphaned, having to grow up for most of her childhood in foster homes as a child belonging to the state of California and transplanted from home to home until her eighteenth birthday by Meredith Combs, her disgruntled and exasperated social worker.

The number of times the main character has moved from placement to placement does not speak as harshly to her flaws as it does to the abuse and often the neglect by the foster care system that inhibits her. This regular pattern of neglect and nomadic instability proves to harden Victoria Jones against trust, love, and affection in relationships to the point of disliking physical touch. Ironically, Victoria's hardness, which is a result of her feelings of inadequacy and failure as a child who is both unwanted and unloved, is a later source of her strength and survival as an adult.

The novel is primarily about the relationship of motherhood in its varying forms as depicted in the characters that surround Victoria Jones. From Elizabeth Anderson's maternal love for Victoria as a child, Grant Hasting's paternal love for his mentally ill mother, Catherine, Renata's distant, yet protective professionalism, Mother Ruby's over-saturated nurturing, Victoria's indirect maternal instinct towards her lovesick cliental searching for messages and answers in the flowers they seek, and her overwhelming love, yet quick incapacity to care for her newborn infant. This and the yearning for love, a fierce competition for it against the restraints of a character who is unfamiliar and uncomfortable with its social nuances, and the need for reconciliation with the past, is what this book is about.

Though the story moves with ease to convince you of its interesting plot and curiosity enough to advocate for the main character, the characters seemed somewhat unbelievable in their polarity. They are to me what perhaps a reader wishes a character to be, rather than a true reflection of what people are really like. I don't know, perhaps I am too harsh in judging the cold and emotionally inept girl who is naturally drawn to flowers or the exaggerated characters who are her counterparts.

Though, Renata of Bloom, deems herself non-nurturing, she is over generous with her business and her money in the care and welfare of the main character.

Elizabeth Anderson, a childless woman is overly patient with a self-indulgent, prickly girl and forgives past wrongs in the cruelty of vengeful, false accusations, and the burning of a vineyard.

Grant Hastings is wonderfully kind and mature for a young man merely in his twenties with little or no resentment towards the secret of Victoria's past, her inability for commitment, and her last form of abandonment. Any other man perhaps would be livid. Instead Grant cooks her a succulent meal of chicken upon her return.

Aside from these sometimes over-idealistic characters, the novel moves between past and present to show Victoria Jones' life education in horticulture and survival, her self-taught ability to take photographs and create a flower dictionary, and in that, create for herself her own meaning in the ways to cope with and understand her world.

The novel not only inspired me to consider studying horticulture for my own search of meaning behind the beauty of nature and flowers, but also allows its readers to recognize the gaps sometimes found in a state-run foster care system that needs be addressed in order for more young children to thrive in self-confidence, family life, and a true sense of belonging.

Though meaning and "[t]he language of flowers is [deemed] nonnegotiable..." (p.63) by Elizabeth Anderson, the main character, Victoria Jones, is able to negotiate her own terms of language, love, acceptance, survival, and growth.

After reading the book, I lay down my own bouquet of Laburnum, White Jasmine, and Agrimony.

Thanks and congratulations to Vanessa Diffenbaugh on her debut novel and the continual success of her advocacy for foster care.
( )
  ZaraD.Garcia-Alvarez | Jun 6, 2017 |
An interesting book that moved a trifle too slowly for my liking, but one rich with emotion and diffused with the language of flowers. ( )
  Soulmuser | May 30, 2017 |
This novel begins with Victoria Jones waking up on her eighteenth birthday in a group home. Well, perhaps it was her birthday. Since her birth date, location, and even her parents were unknown, the courts just picked a possible date for her birth.
Victoria was an angry girl with a great knowledge of flowers- scientific descriptions and meanings. It was her only connection with the world.
When she aged out of the system, she lived on the street , getting a job in a florist shop. She was excellent and things went well for awhile, but she fell in love with a very kind young man that she had known from her past. She got pregnant and everything fell apart. Victoria didn't feel that she deserved kindness so she ruined every good situation that she found herself in. Very sad story.
The chapters are short and alternate between Victoria at 18 and Victoria at 9. Very disruptive. ( )
  bettyroche | May 8, 2017 |
I enjoyed this but think I would have enjoyed it more as a real book rather than the audio version. ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 333 (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)
 

» Add other authors (34 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vanessa Diffenbaughprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rovira Ortega, GemmaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rovira, GemmaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
For PK
First words
For eight years I dreamed of fire.
Quotations
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
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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Discovering the symbolic meanings of flowers while languishing in the foster-care system, eighteen-year-old Victoria is hired by a florist when her talent for helping others is discovered, a situation that leads her to confront a painful secret from her past.… (more)

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