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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

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.

As soon as I opened this book I was captured by its contents.

This book has been stated as being the ‘most talked-about debut acquisition of 2010 and will be the publishing event of 2011’. I can really see this as being true. The book is set in the present day, but there is also an underlying story of the main characters past. Victoria spent her younger years being passed from foster home to foster home before being placed in a care home until she reached 18 when she had a home for three months at The Gathering House, after three months if she had a job and could pay the rent she could stay, otherwise she was evicted and left to fend for herself. Victoria disappeared from the house the night before her social worker was due to evict her. The story which follows tells of Victoria’s journey of life, finding herself somewhere to sleep, a job and home before becoming a mother herself and the difficulties she had in adjusting to life, allowing others to love her, comfort her, offer support and love, before motherhood and the issues that incurred. Throughout this story, interspersed, is the story of Victoria’s childhood, when she found someone to care for her, who she respected, before they were separated.

Throughout this book, Victoria has a gift; she understands the language of flowers and works in a florist, before setting up her own business, as a florist for weddings, events, baby showers etc. The floral arrangements she produces all have a message within.

There are sad times within the book; Victoria does have many bad times in her life, none more so than following the birth of her child but there are also many happy times too.

The language of flowers is mentioned throughout the whole book and I really enjoyed this, including the inclusion of Victoria’s dictionary of flowers at the end of the book. It would have been lovely if some of Catherine’s sketches could have been included as well. A book about flowers does not sound like a book that would keep me gripped however I learnt lots from this book and really enjoyed the story as well. I read it in two days, which is very quick for me and I think that the author must have researched very deeply into this ancient art and has used her research to create a book which I think will be one talked about for years to come.

I recommend this to people who are interested in the language of flowers but also to people who want a book to read that has a great story, about how someone who has had a bad childhood uses their knowledge to create a new life for themselves and then also improve the life of others.

I received this book as part of the Amazon Vine program.

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