Thursday, September 13, 2012

Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh [Review]

The Language of Flowers4.5 out of 5 Robots!

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Release: August 23, 2011
Hardcover: 322 Pages
Publisher: Random House Publishing Company
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon
Buy the Book: Amazon

Book Summary:
A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.

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 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 and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market 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.
  (Courtesy of the Publisher)
Shannon's Thoughts:
The Language of Flowers falls into a genre I like to call "Book Club Lit".  It's that type of book that usually stars a broken young woman with a tragic past who has to has to learn to trust and forgive again, usually with the help of some special or quirky characters.  The Language of Flowers most definitely falls into that category, but I found it better than most in that genre.  It is a sad, yet hopeful book.  It begins on Victoria’s 18th birthday as she is released from the foster system.  After spending all her life in the foster system, Victoria is almost feral and completely distrusts everyone.  She knows herself to be broken and unlovable.  The only time she felt loved was when was almost adopted by Elizabeth, who taught her the language of flowers (the Victorian notion that each flower conveys a meaning).  But she was taken away from Elizabeth at the age of 11 and put back into the foster system.  The reader finds out the details in the flashbacks interspersed between the present day.  

Victoria is an extremely damaged girl and her actions are not always rational.  Sometimes she is a hard protagonist to love and makes decisions that can infuriate the reader.  Victoria does start to heal, but in small doses, with a lot of set backs.  Ultimately though, she is seeking her own redemption and forgiveness and once she begins on that path she can start to accept the love of those around her.  Victoria's journey is messy and nothing is tied up with a pretty string, but you find yourself rooting for her the entire way.  

Language of Flowers is beautifully written - very lyrical and moody.  The beginning is amazing and really draws the reader in.  The middle tends to sag a bit, but it bolstered by the ending. I found this book to be a wonderful read overall.  And yes, it would be great for book clubs
. Fans of books like Sarah's Key, Broken for You, or Water for Elephants should be all over this one.

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