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 )
"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them." --Lemony Snicket
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.
The non-soccer mom
moving, eloquent, beautiful
Victoria - she was self aware, honest and flawed. While I didn't always like her, I loved hearing her self analysis and awareness.
Every moment in this book moved me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
mom of 3
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.
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.
I've become an avid "reader" since I discovered audiobooks a few years ago. Also a cat lover - at left is Prince Harold
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.
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.
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