Friday, December 11, 2015

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Victoria Jones has grown up in the foster-care system around San Francisco.  Emancipated from the system at age eighteen, Victoria has no place to go and no one to love her or help her out.  She soon finds herself sleeping in parks and starting a garden of her own.

When Victoria was nine years old, she was placed with a woman named Elizabeth who owned a vineyard.  Victoria was a terror of a child, but Elizabeth understood her frustrations and combated them with love.  She also taught her about the language of flowers.  Victorians assigned meanings to flowers and used them to communicate with each other.  Elizabeth and Victoria use this language to communicate.  After one year, Elizabeth will be able to adopt Victoria, but something goes awry and this does not happen.

Eighteen year old Victoria uses her knowledge of flowers to get a job at a florist.  She soon has a room in an apartment and learns how to make her way in life.  She also meets intriguing Grant at the flower market.  He also knows the language of flowers and has a past link with Victoria.  Will Victoria be able to open herself to love and to forgive herself for past mistakes?  Will she be able to learn to live and to find a family of her own?

This book was written in alternating chapters with different time lines.  One timeline was present Victoria and the other timeline was past 9-year old Victoria.  The flashbacks served to tell what exactly happened with Victoria’s relationship with Elizabeth and what secret Victoria is trying to learn to live with.

The Language of Flowers was the December pick for the FLICKS Book and Movie Club (aka Rogue).  Wendy was directed to pick a book that didn’t make us cry, but I’ll admit that I did tear up with this book. I loved the very unique storyline.  I was interested in the secret language of the flowers, but more in Victoria’s story and growth.  I can’t imagine trying to make it in a world without having any sort of support system to help you out.  It was a stark look at what obstacles some children have to face every day.  I can’t say much more as I don’t want to give away what happens in this novel, but I think it will be a great source of discussion for us next week at book club!

A couple of quotes I liked:

“Do you really think you’re the only human being alive who is unforgivably flawed?  Who’s been hurt almost to the point of breaking?”  - Renata Victoria’s boss and mentor speaking to Victoria

“Over time, we would learn each other, and I would learn to love her like a mother loves a daughter, imperfectly and without roots.” – I loved this quote on motherhood

Overall, The Language of Flowers is a wonderful novel with a unique premise and a great exploration of love, motherhood, and the ties that bind us.  I don’t feel like I’m doing the book justice in my description –but try this one out.  You’ll enjoy it and not regret your choice.

Book Source:  The Kewaunee Public Library


  1. Laura, I've been interested in reading this book for a while now. I enjoyed reading your review--the quotations are quite touching. Lovely review! I will definitely keep an eye out for this novel.

  2. I think I'm going to make this my first read of 2016!

  3. Awesome! I think you both will enjoy it. It got good reviews from my book club last night as well.