Reading guide for 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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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. What potential do Elizabeth, Renata, and Grant see in Victoria that she has a hard time seeing in herself?

  2. While Victoria has been hungry and malnourished often in her life, food ends up meaning more than just nourishment to her.  Why?

  3. Victoria and Elizabeth both struggle with the idea of being part of a family.  What does it mean to you to be part of a family?  What defines family?

  4. Why do you think Elizabeth waits so long before trying to patch things up with her long-lost sister Catherine?  What is the impetus for her to do so?

  5. The first week after her daughter’s birth goes surprisingly well for Victoria.  What is it that makes Victoria feel unable to care for her child after the week ends?  And what is it that allows her to ultimately rejoin her family?

  6. One of the major themes in The Language of Flowers is forgiveness and second chances – do you think Victoria deserves one after the things she did (both as a child and as an adult)?  What about Catherine?  And Elizabeth?

  7. What did you think of the structure of the book – the alternating chapters of past and present?  In what ways did the two storylines parallel each other, and how did they diverge?

  8. The novel touches on many different themes (love, family, forgiveness, second chances). Which do you think is the most important?  And what did you think was ultimately the lesson?

  9. At the end of the novel, Victoria learns that moss grows without roots.  What does this mean, and why is it such a revelation for her?

  10. Based on your reading of the novel, what are your impressions of the foster care system in America?  What could be improved?

  11. Knowing what you now know about the language of the flowers, to whom would you send a bouquet and what would you want it to say?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Ballantine Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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