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The Language of Flowers: A Novel | [Vanessa Diffenbaugh]

The Language of Flowers: A Novel

A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past. The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it's been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude.
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Publisher's Summary

A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it's been more useful in communicating 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 18 and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what's been missing in her life, and when she's forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it's worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

©2011 Vanessa Diffenbaugh (P)2011 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

“As a foster care survivor, I feel a kinship with Victoria Jones as she battles loss and risk and her own thorny demons to find redemption. Vanessa Diffenbaugh has given us a deeply human character to root for, and a heart-wrenching story with insight and compassion to spare.” (Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife)

"The Language of Flowers is a primer for the language of love. Vanessa Diffenbaugh deftly gathers themes of maternal love, forgiveness and redemption in an unforgettable literary bouquet. Book clubs will swoon!" (Adriana Trigiani, author of Very Valentine and Don’t Sing at the Table)

“A deftly powerful story of finding your way home, even after you’ve burned every bridge behind you. The Language of Flowers took my heart apart, chapter by chapter, then reassembled the broken pieces in better working condition - I loved this book.” (Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet )

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (971 )
5 star
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4.0 (838 )
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4.2 (838 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Diana - Audible Oradell, NJ, United States 04-16-12
    Diana - Audible Oradell, NJ, United States 04-16-12 Member Since 2005

    "Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them." --Lemony Snicket

    HELPFUL VOTES
    389
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    420
    30
    FOLLOWERS
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    276
    15
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    Performance
    Story
    "You don't need a green thumb to enjoy this one"

    In this moving debut, deftly narrated by Tara Sands, Victoria emerges from a foster-care system that hasn’t treated her well. She came close to finding a home with her beloved Elizabeth, but her inability to trust led to disaster. Now 18, and on her own, Victoria finds the only way to communicate – and possibly find happiness – is through the flowers she loves and the gift she has in choosing them for others. While this isn't a book I'd listen to again and again, I did enjoy it and found it quietly powerful.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    "unknown" North Potomac, MD, United States 09-27-11
    "unknown" North Potomac, MD, United States 09-27-11 Member Since 2011

    The non-soccer mom

    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    1
    1
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    "Just beautiful! Best book read in a long time!"
    If you could sum up The Language of Flowers in three words, what would they be?

    moving, eloquent, beautiful


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Victoria - she was self aware, honest and flawed. While I didn't always like her, I loved hearing her self analysis and awareness.


    Was there a moment in the book that particular moved you?

    Every moment in this book moved me.


    Any additional comments?

    I could not have loved it more. It was the best book I've read in a very long time. The topic did not draw me, but a friend recommended it, and I am now ready to start it from the beginning and read all over again.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Keisha Los Angeles, CA, United States 10-06-11
    Keisha Los Angeles, CA, United States 10-06-11 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    127
    ratings
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    401
    47
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    "Really enjoyed"

    I truly enjoyed this story. I think it would have been even better read than audio. The narrators voice was too much like a chic lit novel rather than really reflective of the material. I loved the inner turmoil Victoria struggles with and overcame. I never knew there was a language of flowers. This was a great lesson.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charline Indianapolis, IN, United States 05-28-12
    Charline Indianapolis, IN, United States 05-28-12 Member Since 2000
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    47
    6
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    0
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    Story
    "Sad Story"

    Enjoyed the premise of the meaning behind each flower, but had a really hard time finishing it. It was so sad. Book Club choice not mine.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer North Dakota 09-15-11
    Amazon Customer North Dakota 09-15-11 Member Since 2008

    NDbard

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    15
    1
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    "Loved It!"

    I loved the story.I work with foster kids and really felt that Victoria portrayed the emotions experienced by "some" foster kids. I thought the narrator sounded like a young adult which made it seem like Victoria was talking to me. When I was younger I was very interested in the language of flowers and it was fun to revisit it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken Fremont, CA, United States 05-30-13
    Ken Fremont, CA, United States 05-30-13 Member Since 2010

    Avid listener, former reader. Especially enjoys Audiobooks on long road trips. They help us to stay alert and minimizes arguments.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ratings
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    10
    3
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    "Sad, yet beautiful and inspiring."
    Where does The Language of Flowers rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    My had read this in her book club and recommended it to me. It was well worth the 'read'. High up on my favorites list.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I didn't realize that each flower conveyed a message. Something I will have to consider in future bouquet gifts.


    Which character – as performed by Tara Sands – was your favorite?

    Vanessa Diffenbaugh introduces you to a young girl and gradually but surely adds layer upon layer to her character until the whole girl is shown with all her highs, lows, character strengths and weaknesses.

    The way Vanessa moves between past and present is deliberately timed to give the listener a bit more insight into the young girl exactly as needed.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Language of Flowers and why?

    There was absolutely NOTHING about Tara Sands performance that was lacking. Her timing, energy and delivery were superb. She didn't just read the story, she infused it with life.


    Any additional comments?

    Tara Sands was the perfect choice for the narrator. She was able to make the reader believe that an eighteen + young lady was, indeed, telling her story.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 10-04-12
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 10-04-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    146
    ratings
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    191
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    "A beautiful language"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Language of Flowers to be better than the print version?

    I haven't read the print version, but I would probably say yes. THe choice of narrator for this book was phenomenal, capturing the bitter, jaded, fragile persona of a young teenager


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Elizabeth, Victoria, and Renata, in that order. Elizabeth for obvious reasons, Victoria for the reason that you get inside her head and feel her pain and anger while still going on a journey with her that doesn't make you pity her (she'd hate that), and Renata for taking chances and being the best kind of friend.


    What about Tara Sands’s performance did you like?

    As stated above, she captured the persona of all characters well - slight accents where needed, stronger ones is required, and the emotional drama of the story were pitch-perfect


    Any additional comments?

    This book was beautiful and wonderful and painful. Dramatic without being overly so, happy without being sappy, and an excellent read. I would have liked to see more male characters, but a minor quibble in a good read.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine ACTON, MA, United States 10-20-11
    Christine ACTON, MA, United States 10-20-11 Member Since 2011

    mom of 3

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    15
    1
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    "Truly Enjoyable Read"

    Easy to listen to. Enjoyably complex characters. Woven throughout with the language of flowers, of which I was vaguely familiar, vaguely interested, yet found thoroughly entertaining and inspiring.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SamanthaG Marietta GA 08-11-13
    SamanthaG Marietta GA 08-11-13 Member Since 2010

    SamanthaG

    HELPFUL VOTES
    113
    ratings
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    206
    82
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    "This book held my interest - I listened twice"

    I didn't think I would like the book - the title says to me says "Ladies' Book Club Book" and that's exactly why i selected it - we're discussing it tomorrow. I ended up finding it compelling and a really good story. A lot of negative reviewers did not like Victoria, but I really empathized with her - she had a rough upbringing but she knew herself and wanted to be better, for herself and other people in her life. The last book I read prior to this one was The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog - and it tied in beautifully with this book. It's non-fiction about children brought up in difficult circumstances and the resilience they displayed. I see Victoria in the same light. The backbone of this book, the meanings of flowers, provided an interesting base. Not 5 stars because the ending was melodramatic, sickeningly sweet and Hallmark Hall of Fame-ish.

    I gave the performance 2 stars because the narrator seemed to be using what I consider to be "teen-speak" - if I had to hear the word GarDEN one more time...... I also felt that she had difficulty with the male voices - they sounded forced.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LB canton, GA, United States 07-01-13
    LB canton, GA, United States 07-01-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    70
    19
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    0
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    "Flawed heroine, that you fall in love with"

    Well done book, with the lead character so flawed, you start off feeling sorry for her, then with one bad decision after another, you start to want to yell at her. The author does a superb job getting into the psyche of the character where you can almost understand why she is making bad decisions. I found this the most interesting part of the story. The story of mother and child and falling in love are all done well but not as unique as the lead character. I would definately recommend as a very good read/listen.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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