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.
I would personally like to hand a red rose to Vanessa Diffenbaugh for her first novel. I loved it! She has managed to weave together her knowledge of the meaning of flowers with an in-depth look at the foster care system, weddings, marriage, heartbreak, and mending fences (Barbara S). (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).
Washington Post - Brigitte Weeks
This novel is both enchanting and cruel, full of beauty and anger. Diffenbaugh is a talented writer and a mesmerizing storyteller. She includes a flower dictionary in case we want to use the language ourselves. And there is one more sprig I should add to her bouquet: a single pink carnation (I will never forget you).
Struggling against all and ultimately reborn, Victoria Jones is hard to love, but very easy to root for.
Starred Review. Fans of Janet Fitch's White Oleander will enjoy this solid and well-written debut, which is also certain to be a hit with book clubs.
Starred Review. Enchanting, ennobling, and powerfully engaging, Diffenbaugh's artfully accomplished debut novel lends poignant testimony to the multitude of mysteries held in the human heart.
While Diffenbaugh's to be admired for not making Victoria a household saint, this novel, with its gooey fairy-tale ending, is more cherry blossom (impermanence) and violet (modest worth) than gentian (intrinsic worth) and laurel (glory and success).
Tatiana de Rosnay, author of Sarah's Key
This heartbreaking debut novel about mothers and daughters, love, and the secret significance of flowers had me weeping with emotion and wonder. Victoria Jones is an unforgettable heroine and you will never look at flowers the same way again.
Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
A deftly powerful story of finding your way home, even after you've burned every bridge behind you, The Language of Flowers took my heart apart, chapter by chapter, then reassembled the broken pieces in better working condition. I loved this book.
Joshilyn Jackson, author of Gods in Alabama
This hope-soaked, glorious book speaks to every once-broken, cracked, or poorly mended heart about the risks we take to heal, to be fully human, to truly connect. An astonishingly assured debut.
Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand The Language of Flowers gives us new definitions of human compassion in all its forms. Bouquets of laurel and trumpet vine await this beautifully arranged story!
Beth Hoffman, author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Devastating, hopeful, and beautifully written, The Language of Flowers is a testament to the tender mercies and miraculous healing power of love.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Rosebolo Stunning A simply gorgeous read that was riveting & engaging from the very beginning. It had me pondering the significance of what it means to be a mother or a daughter. Stayed with me for days & captured my heart forever. By far one of the best... Read More
Rated of 5
by Caryl Language of Flowers Although I would recommend this book as very interesting reading, I found it a little lacking. In dealing with Victoria's life in the "system" was not very revealing. Too much time in the contradictory meanings of the flowers. The... Read More
Rated of 5
by Anne Cater Beautiful What a beautiful book, both the story itself and the actual book. The cover is a stunning design, and different parts of the story have front pages with gorgeous calligraphy - it really is beautifully designed and presented.
The subject of the... Read More
Rated of 5
by Dorothy T. Great read! I like how the structure of this novel--switching between the past and the present--kept me engaged all through the read, as well as the characters, main and secondary, and the themes of love and loss, mothers and daughters. There is much here for... Read More
Rated of 5
by Judy G Beyond the color Excellent insight into growing up in a foster home, having a child alone at an early age, symbolism, mother love, devotion, independence and forgiveness. I will look beyond the color when I give flowers in the future! I loved this book!
Rated of 5
by CarolK Flowers Have A Beautiful Language I didn't know flowers had so much to say. Certainly, "I love You" but other emotions like jealousy, hate, sorrow, passion, mistrust, never entered my mind. I heard author, Vanessa Dissenbauch, talking about her debut novel The Language of... Read More
While researching the symbolism of various plants for her novel,
The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh discovered that, "nearly every flower had multiple meanings, listed in hundreds of books, in dozens of languages, and on countless websites."
This left her with the challenge of determining which meanings were most "correct," or at the very least, most relevant to her work.
With great care, Diffenbaugh researched the scientific definitions of many plants and herbs, and she learned how various flora came to hold social significance. She explains:
"Lining up dictionaries on my dining room table... I scanned the meanings, selecting the definition that best fit the science of each flower, just as [her character] Victoria would have done. Other times, when I could find no scientific reason for a definition, I chose the meaning that occurred most often...
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...