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Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Language of Flowers (edition 2011)

by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,8943251,997 (3.98)1 / 166
Title:Language of Flowers
Authors:Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Info:MacMillan (2011), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:read 2013, fiction

Work details

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

  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.
  3. 10
    The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (KatyBee)
    KatyBee: Excellent writing, main female character has a very unique 'gift'.
  4. 00
    How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (treadsowell)
  5. 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.

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English (318)  Dutch (3)  German (3)  Italian (2)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (328)
Showing 1-5 of 318 (next | show all)
I almost didn't read this book because I thought it would be full of sappy romance and fabricated nostalgia for Victorian conventions. But when several people whose opinions I respect told me how much they liked it, I realized I had judged the book by its cover. In fact, the story's relationships are not at all trite, but complicated, thoughtful and interesting. I was instantly drawn to the atypical narrator and her honesty about her own flaws. Though her journey of transformation is a bit neatly tied up at the end, and though the patience of her supporting characters is at times unbelievable, the overall message of hope in humanity is a strong and valuable one. Plus, it is a very enjoyable and quick read, making it easy to overlook a few minor shortcomings. ( )
  trwm | Oct 6, 2016 |
Victoria has been betrayed over and over again during the years that she grew up in the foster care system. The only thing that ever interested her is flowers and their hidden meanings. When she is 18 and finally free from the system she feels more at home with her flowers than with people, but she must learn to live in the world of people in order to survive. As Victoria gradually finds her way, she begins to form some tentative bonds with others. But when her new life intersects with her past, she finds herself having to go on a painful journey.
Learning more about the hidden meanings of flowers adds a fun extra to this book, but it is the emotional journey that Victoria undergoes that kept me reading. I wanted to see how she would survive when she was so closed off from others, and if she would ever find love and happiness. This exploration of a young woman thrown out on her own after aging out of the foster care system also lent itself well to discussion. ( )
  debs4jc | Sep 22, 2016 |
This is one of those books you never want to end. I could hardly turn the pages fast enough. You certainly want to go all the way to the end, although there were many times I wanted to give up on this young lady as she made increasingly self-destructive decisions, yet hoping she would pul out of her tailspin and learn to love and forgive. This is for a book discussion group and I think we'll have a good time.
( )
  Luke_Brown | Sep 10, 2016 |
The title of The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh emphasizes the idea in the novel that is catchy enough to draw readers. I didn't know meanings were assigned to flowers in nineteenth century England and America before I read this book and I appreciated what I learned about this interesting part of our past. While reading the story, I went out to a few websites to see if this fact was real or fiction, and it is real.

The main story in the novel is about a person, rather than a secret language. It's about Victoria, a naive, uniformed girl who is totally unprepared to make her way in the world. The narrative bounces back and forth between her life as a foster child at age 10 and her life after she's aged out of the system at 18. Much of what happens to Victoria after she's a young woman is predetermined by what happened to her as a child. So telling the story in this non-linear way reveals her background slowly and keeps the suspense well.

Victoria has a hard life, but some things work out for her. She is placed in the home of a woman who owns a vineyard. This woman, Elizabeth, has also had a hard life and understands Victoria's behavior in ways others can't. It is Elizabeth who teaches Victoria about the language of flowers. Later, at age 18, Victoria takes a job working for a florist, Renata, who also turns out to be a caring person.

The theme of The Language of Flowers can best be summed up by this quote from the book: Perhaps the unattached, the unwanted, the unloved, could grow to give love as lushly as anyone else.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions ( )
  SteveLindahl | Sep 2, 2016 |
I received this as a first reads winner. I really liked this book. Victoria has struggled in the foster care system. She didn’t feel loved so when her current situation would be going really well she would do something to screw it up and be thrown back into the system. When she is 10, she is placed with Elizabeth who loves her, starts to crack Victoria’s shell and teaches her the language of flowers. Victoria takes to it like a fish to water. Working with flowers is second nature for her. She gathers clients who think she is a wizard. As you learn about Victoria, your heart goes out to her as she struggles to find her way. She doesn’t like to be touched, doesn’t know what love feels like and just doesn’t know how to be a part of society. She just tries to survive. The book switches between current life and snippets of her life with Elizabeth with a final conclusion at the end of the two stories coming together. This was beautifully written. I know most foster care stories in the news are horror stories. You don’t read stories very often of the ones who try hard for the kids. We have friends who have been foster parents of special needs kids and they adopted four of the kids. It’s foster parents like them who make up for all the ones who are just in it for the extra money. I recommend this book. It’s a beautiful story and characters you will fall in love with. ( )
  MHanover10 | Jul 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 318 (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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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
For PK
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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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.

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