Victoria's Dictionary of Flowers: Background information when reading The Language of Flowers

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Language of Flowers

A Novel

by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh X
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2011, 336 pages

    Paperback:
    Apr 2012, 352 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

Victoria's Dictionary of Flowers

This article relates to The Language of Flowers

Print Review

While researching the symbolism of various plants for her novel, Vanessa Diffenbaugh 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 or, occasionally, simply the one I liked best."

From this information she compiled Victoria's Dictionary of Flowers - a collection of definitions that she felt would be useful to the modern reader. "I deleted plants from the Victorian dictionaries that are no longer common, and added flowers that were rarely used in the 1800s but are more popular today," she says.

The complete work, which is included at the end of her novel, covers well-known flowers; for example, a red rose symbolizes love, an olive branch is peace. But she also shares more obscure and unfamiliar meanings that are as intriguing as they are delightful to discover:

Azalea
  • Azalea:
    "Fragile and ephemeral passion"
Chamomile
  • Chamomile:
    "Energy in adversity"
Clove
  • Clove:
    "I have loved you and you have not known it"
Orange blossom
  • Orange blossom:
    "Your purity equals your loveliness"
Peppermint
  • Peppermint:
    "Warmth of feeling"
Tansy
  • Tansy:
    "I declare war against you"

Azelea photo credit: Bubba73
Chamomile photo credit: Alvesgaspar
Clove photo credit: Brian Arthur
Orange blossom photo credit: Ellen Levy Finch
Tansy photo credit: Lienhard Schulz

Filed under Cultural Curiosities

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Language of Flowers. It originally ran in September 2011 and has been updated for the April 2012 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Bloodbath Nation
    Bloodbath Nation
    by Paul Auster
    In recent years, Booker Prize­–nominated novelist Paul Auster has increasingly turned to ...
  • Book Jacket: The Nazi Conspiracy
    The Nazi Conspiracy
    by Brad Meltzer, Josh Mensch
    The Nazi Conspiracy by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch was a big hit with our First Impressions readers...
  • Book Jacket
    Yonder
    by Jabari Asim
    The captivating historical novel Yonder turns an intimate lens towards the tragedy and survivorship ...
  • Book Jacket: After Sappho
    After Sappho
    by Selby Wynn Schwartz

    "Someone will remember us, I say, even in another time."
    —Sappho, fragment ...


Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Mitford Affair
by Marie Benedict
An explosive novel of history's most notorious sisters, one of whom will have to choose: her country or her family?

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    River Sing Me Home
    by Eleanor Shearer

    A remarkable debut about a mother's gripping journey across the Caribbean to find her stolen children in the aftermath of slavery.

  • Book Jacket

    Wade in the Water
    by Nyani Nkrumah

    A gripping debut novel of female power and vulnerability, race, and class set in a small Mississippi town in the early 1980s.

  • Book Jacket

    Moonrise Over New Jessup
    by Jamila Minnicks

    "Jamila Minnicks pulled me into pages of history I'd never turned before."—Barbara Kingsolver

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

It's A G T Me

and be entered to win..

Who Said...

If there is anything more dangerous to the life of the mind than having no independent commitment to ideas...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.