The Language of Flowers

A Novel
Narrated by: Tara Sands
Length: 10 hrs and 50 mins
4 out of 5 stars (2,926 ratings)

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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.

Praise for The Language of Flowers

"Instantly enchanting... [Diffenbaugh] is the best new writer of the year." (Elle)

“I would like to hand Vanessa Diffenbaugh a bouquet of bouvardia (enthusiasm), gladiolus (you pierce my heart) and lisianthus (appreciation). In this original and brilliant first novel, Diffenbaugh has united her fascination with the language of flowers - a long-forgotten and mysterious way of communication - with her firsthand knowledge of the travails of the foster-care system.... This novel is both enchanting and cruel, full of beauty and anger. Diffenbaugh is a talented writer and a mesmerizing storyteller. She includes a flower dictionary in case we want to use the language ourselves. And there is one more sprig I should add to her bouquet: a single pink carnation (I will never forget you).” (Washington Post)

"A fascinating debut... Diffenbaugh clearly knows both the human heart and her plants, and she keeps us rooting for the damaged Victoria." (O Magazine)

"Diffenbaugh effortlessly spins this enchanting tale, making even her prickly protagonist impossible not to love." (Entertainment Weekly)

©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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  • 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 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    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 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    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 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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.

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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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.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

4 people found this helpful

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One of the Best Books I've Ever Read

I couldn't stop listening! So so good & kept my interest well! Loved the narrator too

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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 people found this helpful

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Really enjoyed this book

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

1 person found this helpful