Book Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS
By Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Published August 23, 2011
Fiction

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.

When I was approached by Random House to read this book, I was fascinated by the premise of the book.  I was also interested because it was the author’s first novel.  I just wish I hadn’t let it fall down in my pile of books to read.  Once I started this book, I struggled with the fact that I couldn’t put it down, yet I didn’t want the story to end.

The character of Victoria took me back to my early social work days of working with juveniles in alternative high schools and group homes.  It reminded me of some of the kids who left an impression on me and made me wonder….where are they now?  All would be adults by now.  How are they doing?  Was there someone there to help them transition into the adult world?

I liked how the author flipped back and forth from Victoria’s childhood in foster care to her current life as an adult.  It made the story move faster and gave you the history you needed at the time you needed it.  I can’t say I had a favorite character, because I loved each of the them in their own special way, but Elizabeth and Renata were amazingly strong, patient and caring women that I would love to know.  I also loved that a certain person in the novel was named Hazel Jones.  My grandmother was Hazel Jones, and she also was a flower lover and passed that on to my mom and to me even though I never met her.

I loved the history and language of the flowers. It was fascinating and made me look at flowers in a whole new light.  I have a new flower garden that we will be planning for next spring and I am thinking differently about the types of flowers I want to plant in there.

This novel touched on many different topics that would encourage lots of discussion including forgiveness, love, heartbreak, despair, hope, and second chances.  We all make mistakes, so shouldn’t we all deserve second, or maybe even third, fourth and fifth chances?  This novel makes you believe second chances must be given and received.

THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS is powerful, engaging, enchanting, thought provoking, and beautiful.  When I got to the final chapter of the book, I was sad and torn.  I wanted to get to find out what happened, but didn’t want the story to end.  This one is a keeper on my bookshelf and I have a feeling it would be on yours too.  Run out and get this book today! 

For more on THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS or Vanessa Diffenbaugh, check out her website http://www.vanessadiffenbaugh.com/ or her Facebook Page.  PEOPLE Magazine named THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS as one of their “Great Reads”.  I am also super excited to report that FOX 2000 has also purchased the rights to this book to make into a movie.  I think it would make a fabulous movie and hope that it will be made soon.  For more on Vanessa Diffenbaugh and her thoughts about the book, check out this video.

Thanks to Random House for sending me an ARC of this book for review.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  This review is my honest opinion and I do not review anything that wouldn’t benefit myself of my family.

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