BookBrowse Reviews The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

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The Language of Flowers

A Novel

by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2011, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2012, 352 pages

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A debut novel that weaves together the meaning of flowers, the foster care system, marriage and heartbreak

Readers are abuzz with praise for Vanessa Diffenbaugh's debut novel, The Language of Flowers. 24 out of 26 reviewers rated it 4 or 5 stars, making it one of BookBrowse's highest rated books to date!

Here's what they have to say:
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). I received this book around 5:00 pm on a Friday and am writing this review less than 24 hours later; it is one of the best I've ever read. Victoria's story is engrossing and compelling, and the history behind flower language opens up a new world to explore (Carol N). I can't say enough in praise; the story is filled with heartache, small miracles, and love. A perfect page-turner of a summer read (Debra F)!

Some readers enjoyed Diffenbaugh's complex characters and her vivid descriptions:
The author delivers a wonderfully well-written first novel. Victoria Jones is a strong, complicated, and flawed character who tries to find her way out of a lonely past (Mary J). The book gets better with each turn of the page; it was exceptional in terms of writing and storyline (Elizabeth), and the characters were perfectly "fleshed out" - I really cared about all of them (Nikki M)! I love how the main character always lands on her feet. And Diffenbaugh's is the best description of a woman in labor that I have ever read (Gigi K).

While others were thrilled by the book's sense of mystery:
Generally I don't like books that mix up the chronology of the story line, but in The Language of Flowers, it adds an element of suspense (Anne G). Elizabeth's secret keeps you wondering what happened in the past (Elizabeth), and the possibility of Victoria finding a home and love makes this novel a satisfying page-turner (Virginia B).

A couple readers warmed to it slowly, though they ended up as fans:
Victoria's pattern of chronic self-destruction grows tiresome, and it was a bit difficult to get into the book, but it read quickly after that (Pamela K). Although I found most of the emotionally written story believable, I did struggle with Victoria's actions after the birth. However, the insight into the foster care system and the overall message of the book overcomes that one setback (Julie H).

But the majority of reviewers thoroughly enjoyed the novel and were enchanted by the unspoken meaning behind flowers:
If I could make a bouquet for the author, I would fill it with bouvardia (enthusiasm), lisianthus (appreciation), and bellflower (gratitude) (MaryEllen K). This novel is an excellent exploration of a mother's unconditional love for her daughter and a wonderful introduction to the world of flowers and all that they can communicate. This story reinforces the idea that if one person sees the uniqueness in another person, it can change both their lives for the better. I will never look at flowers again without wanting to know their meaning... I cannot wait for Diffenbaugh's next offering (Julie M)!

This review was originally published in September 2011, and has been updated for the April 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



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