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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

Critic Reviews

“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 Ratings

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Story

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

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.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

An angry child grows up... with flowers

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • LB
  • 07-01-13

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Really enjoyed this book

I was surprised that I liked it. I usually don't like books like this. The reading was fantastic

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Too much detail

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • KP
  • 11-23-12

Didn't live up to my expectations...

The best thing about The Language of Flowers was the way the Victorian concept that each variety of flower conveys a message was woven into the plot of this book. For example, purple dahlias convey dignity, and lavender signals mistrust. I had only vaguely thought about the concept before as in sending a red rose on Valentine's Day. So I really looked forward to the exploration of the idea in a novel. And this part of the story was the best and most creative part of the book.

If only the story itself had been that creative or fascinating. Instead it just seemed too overwrought. Victoria was too unbelievably damaged. She veered back and forth from one unbelievable decision to another. It almost gave me whiplash :) *** spoiler alert!*** Since she had been damaged by all her abandonment, it made some sense that she was messing up her life pretty badly, although most of the time it just made me roll my eyes in disbelief. The person whose choices did NOT make sense was her "step-mom" Elizabeth. The day when she was supposed to take Victoria to her adoption hearing and she just dropped out and gave up was TOTALLY unbelievable. I know Elizabeth was damaged, too, BUT she was an adult, and she KNEW that she had nurtured poor, damaged Victoria back to a kind of normalcy that would be RUINED by yet another abandonment - the worst one yet. It did not make sense, and I just kind of lost respect for the whole book from that point on. It all began to seem too contrived.

Of course, at the end, the pieces all fell back into a neat, tidy and loving ending, all nicely tied up. I did like the things Victoria said and had learned at the end, but they just seemed too pat. In a way, this book seemed like a young adult novel in its shallowness and need to hammer home a point.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful