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

  • 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

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.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • 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 $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Confessions of an Innocent Man
    Confessions of an Innocent Man
    by David R. Dow
    It is circumstance that carries the wave that sweeps trendy Houston restaurateur Rafael Zhettah to ...
  • Book Jacket: Memories of the Future
    Memories of the Future
    by Siri Hustvedt
    I've never kept a journal, but my mother has written in hers for years, the annual volumes she's ...
  • Book Jacket: Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss
    Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss
    by Rajeev Balasubramanyam
    Rajeev Balasubramanyam encapsulates the theme of Professor Chandra Follows his Bliss in its first ...
  • Book Jacket: The Workshop and the World
    The Workshop and the World
    by Robert P. Crease
    The longest glacier in France, the Mer de Glace, is losing roughly 12 feet of ice height each year. ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    When We Left Cuba
    by Chanel Cleeton

    An exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Affairs of the Falcóns
    by Melissa Rivero

    A beautiful, urgent novel about the lengths one woman is willing to go to build a new life.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones

A masterpiece of storytelling, and a 2018 Oprah's Book Club Selection.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win Ecstasy

Win copies to share with friends or your book club!

Ecstasy reveals the true Alma Mahler: composer, author, daughter, mother, wife, lover, and muse.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A B Penny A T U

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

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.