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Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Guest Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Publisher: Macmillan
Publication Date: 18 Aug 2011

Synopsis from Goodreads

The Victorian language of flowers was used to express emotions: honeysuckle for devotion, azaleas for passion, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it has been more useful in communicating feelings like grief, mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen, Victoria has nowhere to go, and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. When her talent is discovered by a local florist, she discovers her gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But it takes meeting a mysterious vendor at the flower market for her to realise what's been missing in her own life, and as she starts to fall for him, she's forced to confront a painful secret from her past, and decide whether it's worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness. "The Language of Flowers" is a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about the meaning of flowers, the meaning of family, and the meaning of love.


The main character, Victoria, has spent her life in various foster and care homes moving from one place to another. She is angry and alone and does not like to be physically touched by anyone. She is fostered by Elizabeth when she is 10 years old and this is where she learns the language of flowers. Fast forward to when she is 18 and about to be emancipated from the care system with no job and no home and all she has is her love of flowers and floristry.

She starts growing her own garden by stealing the flowers from local gardens and then sleeps there as she has nowhere else to go. She then finds a florist who can see the vast potential she has with flowers and offers her a job and somewhere to sleep. Victoria then starts helping the customers buy the right flowers with the real meaning behind them. This leads Victoria down a path of having to come to terms with her past culminating in coming face to face with the one person she cannot bear to see.

I don’t want to give too much away with the story but Vanessa Diffenbaugh covers topics such as guilt, motherhood, family, love and forgiveness all told through flowers and the meanings they have. I thought this was a great book and got thoroughly immersed with wanting to know what all the flowers meant and how just one stray flower could alter the meaning of an entire bouquet. I thought that the only way Victoria could express any emotion with flowers was a really interesting way of writing and I loved the way that she ended up being healed by the flowers. It is not a light hearted book by any means and she does touch on topics such as failing as a Mother but it is told in such a way that it does not seem bleak and the colour always comes back to the flowers.

This is a great debut novel and I would highly recommend it to anyone especially those who already have an interest in the meaning of flowers.


  1. I was blown away by this book! The way Diffenbaugh weaves flowers and their meanings through Victoria's story is beautiful and she writes with grace and clarity.

    (My review as a matter of interest).

    The Word Fiend

  2. Ooh this sounds good! I love the idea of the use of flowers to express meaning.

  3. I love the sound of this one and can't wait to get hold of a copy! :) great review!

  4. I've been meaning to buy this book for ages now I just love the idea behind it and when I read the first chapter in the book store I was hooked!

  5. Oh wow, I never knew there was a language using flowers, this one sounds absolutely fascinating. Fab review :D


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