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The Language of Flowers (edition 2011)

by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,4602802,498 (4.01)1 / 151
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

  1. 30
    The Language of Flowers: a Miscellany by Mandy Kirkby (guurtjesboekenkast)
  2. 00
    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.
  3. 00
    How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (treadsowell)
  4. 00
    The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (KatyBee)
    KatyBee: Excellent writing, main female character has a very unique 'gift'.
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English (276)  Dutch (3)  German (3)  Italian (2)  Finnish (1)  All languages (285)
Showing 1-5 of 276 (next | show all)
Great in the beginning but a little to sappy towards the end. ( )
  rebeccar76 | Jun 24, 2015 |
Re-read for book club. Enjoyed it just as much the second time. Two unique subjects: what happens when minors are "emancipated" from the foster care system, and the Victorian language of flowers itself. Though Victoria is distrustful of most people and uncommunicative generally, she feels more comfortable expressing herself in a language she knows most people won't understand - the language of flowers, taught to her by her almost-adoptive mother, Elizabeth.

Quotes:

I had rarely been spoken to as if I was capable of understanding another's experience. (40-41)

"Your behavior is a choice; it isn't who you are." (Elizabeth to Victoria, 41)

It was a strange feeling - the excitement of a secret combined with the satisfaction of being useful. (44)

"My mother was a midwife in Russia," Renata said. "So she's used to seeing women naked just moments after meeting them. America in the seventies worked for her just fine, and I don't think she's noticed that times have changed." (154)

My life with Grant was peaceful and quiet, and I might have enjoyed it if not for the overwhelming certainty that it was all about to end. (173)

I would fail; it was the only possible outcome. (195)

Mothers must all secretly despise their children for the inexcusable pain of childbirth. (214-215)

I wanted to tell her that I had never loved anyone, and ask her to explain how a woman incapable of giving love could ever be expected to be a mother, a good one. But even as I thought the words, I knew they were not the truth. I had loved, more than once. I just hadn't recognized the emotion for what it was until I had done everything within my power to destroy it. (240)

"I knew right then that you felt unworthy, that you believed yourself to be unforgivably flawed....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?" (Renata to Victoria, 278-279) ( )
  JennyArch | Jun 18, 2015 |
Lightweight romance/family drama highlighting the long term damage of kids in care. I remain unconvinced by Elizabeth, Victoria's potential adoptive mother which reduced my overall enjoyment. And , as another reviewer noted, the glossary of flowers and their meaning came as a surprise at the end of the book. ( )
  celerydog | May 10, 2015 |
I love the idea of telling stories with flowers, but I had a hard time with Victoria. I didn't really like her, even though I understand why she is the way she is. I wanted more information on the meanings of the flowers, and didn't even know there was a list in the back of the book until I had finished the book. ( )
1 vote mlake | Apr 28, 2015 |
Listened to the recorded version of Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. This book was touted as being excellent for book discussion groups, however, I found the plot so contrived and downright silly in places, that I wanted to throw it against the wall. Problem #1 - the heroine is so stupid. I get it that she came out of the foster child system from birth, but if you are smart enough and gifted enough to make enough money to pay rent and buy food in San Francisco you can't be that stupid. Problem #2 - how do you get away with running a business that pays rent and buys food in San Francisco and never file a tax form, or get a birth certificate for your child? This would never happen in the real world, but it does make for good fiction. That said - I did want to find out how things resolved in the end, so the author was able to keep me reading long enough to do that. Even so, this wouldn't be my first pick for a book group. Or even my second. Or third. It would be in the maybe list. At best I could only rate it as average. ( )
1 vote benitastrnad | Apr 22, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 276 (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 (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vanessa Diffenbaughprimary authorall 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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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.

(summary from another edition)

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