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
“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 )
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.
One of the best I've listened to
She's Come Undone. By Wally Lamb and White Oleander. Also a great coming of age story when all the odds are against you. So beautiful. Moving. Takes you right in and holds you until the end.
I never understand why when women do the men's roles...they don't just deepen their voice, but they always make the men sound like loser dorks. This was well narrated, except for the fake male voice.
I am a 45 year old stay- at-home dad with two teenagers.
This was a solid story that was easy to follow. A little predictable, but the association between flowers and the story was nice.
Most interesting was the flower dictionary. Least favorite part was the development (or lack thereof) of the main character. Overall, a good commuting book. Easy to listen to and pick up before and after work.
Some of the characters decisions really made me cringe, but that is part of the story!
Hi I'm 67 next week, maried happily , retired , active volunteer , nature lover ,music lover ,and travel lover
I found myself totally taken up by this story . I really liked the idea of a "language of flowers_- that each flower has a special meaning that can effect one's being.
I found Victoria's story very very sad and extremely touching
.However the story in all was not credible, never ended , just went on and on.... leaving no place for the reader's imagination on the characters outcome.
An easy read, with some thought provoking insights, but not more than that.
I was taken in by the story and found Victoria to be a lovely protagonist. Although not classically 'easy to love' I did develop a lot of affection for her. I was very engaged by the story. The beginning had me and kept me reading. There was mother-daughter stuff, love, abandonment, betrayal and redemption, definitely all the themes of a good read/listen.
The narrator had a great voice for going from child to adult, but a badly put on Russian accent and grunge band voice for a male character put me off a little.
There were also some ways in which I felt the author was trying to assign Victoria too many characteristics, in a way that wasn't entirely true to the Victoria she'd set out at the beginning of the book. Both the character and the plot went through an arc of development that was readable, I just at times wasn't convinced they were consistent.
Overall though I'd recommend this to a friend, it's a good pool-side/summer read with just enough darkness not to be fluff and to feel rewarding/satisfying. There's also a little element of mystery that I liked, I kept wanting to know more. There was also an interplay of time that worked well I thought, from present to past Victoria.
Also, I look at flowers differently now, and I like that the book has done this.
Even though I ratcheted down the hype I've read elsewhere on this book, I was unprepared for how deeply, truly, dreadful I found it. The narrator, Tara Sands, handled the various character voices well enough, and the audio quality is fine. It's the text I found objectionable.
Very little in the "The Language of Flowers" rings true. Most of the characters are one-dimensional, and that dimension is preternaturally saintlike. The dialogue bears no resemblance to the way people speak, nor does it have any engaging quirks to compensate for lack of naturalism. While one or two scenes have some grit and are vivid, the rest of it reads like a poor excuse for a fairy tale. Using the language of flowers as an organizing principle of the plot may be good marketing (ooh, pretty, pretty), but it is, I think, the source of what's weakest in the book. I'm not going to give plot spoilers here, but most of what happens is a little too neat and tidy.
While themes of parenthood and childhood drive some very powerful literature, including fairy tales, don't bother with this one unless you like the taste of those cheap frosting flowers they put on grocery store cakes.
The author did not draw me in to care about what happened to the characters.
Her voice was too child like for me.
I really enjoyed the perspective into people's lives that this book provided. It made me see the world in a different light and try to understand the people around me more.
As a middle school counselor I was very drawn to the story. The bitter anger that Victoria portrays is very insightful. I found the whole story very interesting. I even looked up the Flower Dictionary.
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