Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Language of Flowers” as Want to Read:
The Language of Flowers
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Language of Flowers

by
4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  142,795 Ratings  ·  16,243 Reviews
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 f
...more
Kindle Edition, 338 pages
Published August 23rd 2011 by Ballantine Books (first published 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Language of Flowers, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Lisa My opinion, as the mom of two young twenty-something men, is that I wouldn't have wanted them to learn about "love and forgiveness" from this book. It…moreMy opinion, as the mom of two young twenty-something men, is that I wouldn't have wanted them to learn about "love and forgiveness" from this book. It sets up the YA reader for an unrealistic expectation. The heroine, Victoria, is rewarded for her churlish, anti-social behavior by a too-good-to-be-true cast of supporting characters who treat her with a God-like agape-type of love that is rarely found in this world. She is continually the beneficiary of others' generosity without ever giving back; and she never acknowledges the gifts that others have given her, never thanks them. She is a "taker" throughout, and she cuts and runs too often. As a mom, I don't see that as a constructive lesson for teens. As chick-lit and book club fodder, it's a good read. For YA readers, not so much, IMO.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
oliviasbooks
Dec 03, 2013 oliviasbooks rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who liked "Raw Blue" by Kirsty Eagar
Recommended to oliviasbooks by: Nomes
The elegantly worded The Language of Flowers made me invest quite a lot during the first chapters, but gambled all my affection away later on. I will try to explain how this unceremonious drop around the middle of the story came to pass after introducing Victoria to you.

There is nothing victorious about Victoria apart from the fact that she survived to see her eighteen's birthday. Even social worker Meredith sees her only as a failure she personally doesn't deserve. A dark blotch on her white s
...more
kari
Oct 25, 2011 kari rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anne OK
Dec 04, 2013 Anne OK rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anne OK by: Kristen Howell
Shelves: 2012-reads
Can't remember when I've read and enjoyed a story as much as Victoria's. She stole my heart from the beginning and I only grew to admire and love her more with each page. There were times when I wanted to shake her and yell at her to wake up and get a grip. Just when I thought she wouldn't, she did just that. Amazing story of survival, love, and strength. The flowers add so much depth and feelings to this story that I was enthralled by it all. Just an amazing and wonderfully well written book wi ...more
Linda
Dec 04, 2013 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Language of Flowers" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
I loved this book from the beginning and didn’t want it to end. I have always had a fascination with knowing the names history of flowers and plants and love finding them in natural surroundings. This book, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, (whose name is similar to the dieffenbachia plant) had such a moving story line in telling the story of Victoria, from her abandonment at birth, through childhood abuse, to her orphanage experience
...more
Diane
Mar 20, 2013 Diane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sorry if I post this review twice. I somehow "lost" the one I was writing.

This book is the darling of book clubs all over the country but I found it to be insipid and flawed. It showed great promise for about the first third. Diffenbaugh seemed to show an accurate and heartbreaking portrait of a young girl who is let down by the foster care system. She is angry and damaged. This was believable and felt very real.

The rest of the book didn't make a lot of sense to me. This broken young woman is sa
...more
Jo
Mar 09, 2012 Jo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have received many a horrified look when I have told people that I don't like red roses. Their expression of horror only got worse when I told them I much preferred yellow roses. I was always really confused as to why which flowers I liked would cause such a strong reaction.

Then I read this book and found out.

Translation Time.
"I don't like red roses" = "I don't like love".
"But I love yellow roses" = "But I love infidelity".

o.O

Now, I'm guessing that this wasn't actually the reason why the look
...more
Aryn
I received this book from Goodreads Giveaways.

After my recent horrendous experience with The Rose Labyrinth, which had me wanting to claw my eyes out after four sentences, it was wonderful to come across a novel with such a graceful writing style that was apparent from the first page.
For eight years I dreamed of fire. Trees ignited as I passed them, oceans burned. The sugary smoke settled in my hair as I slept, the scent like a cloud left on my pillow as I rose. Even so, the moment my mattress
...more
Suzanne
This book was to me, the language of growth, acceptance, and love and of coming home. I have many books on my shelf, but this one stood out simply as I remembered a quick line from a friend, saying she loved it – thanks Jools for this, and for my book.

This was special, and did really suit me in the form of short intense chapters, alternating between the past and present. Tethering me somewhere between constantly feeling bereft yet hopeful, but precariously edgy. I did not put this book down on m
...more
jo mo
4.75/5

Flowery book jacket

edit: being made into movie

"for eight years i dreamed of fire. trees ignited as i passed them, oceans burned. the sugary smoke settled in my hair as i slept, the scent like a cloud left on my pillow as i rose. even so, the moment my mattress started to burn, i bolted awake. the sharp, chemical smell was nothing like the hazy syrup of my dreams; the two were as different as indian and carolina jasmine, separation and attachment. they could not be confused.

standing in the middle of the r
...more
Katrina Passick Lumsden
I don't really know what to write about this book. It was well-written, but I'm not sure I liked it. I didn't hate it, though. For me, it's one of those books that left me going, "Umm...OK...". I like the flower communication and all, but the whole story just sort of took some weird turns and ended up feeling like it wasn't going anywhere. And then it didn't. It just kind of ended.

Meh.
Jen
Mar 07, 2016 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-stars-or-more
Orphaned at a young age, Victoria has been moved to different foster homes, rebelling with angry outbursts and never in one place long enough to establish any solid relationships. At the age of 10, she is taken in by a woman who teaches her the language of flowers and what each flower means. Through these teachings, Victoria is able to start positively communicating. However, when the relationship is threatened, she reverts back to behaviour that will cost her the safe haven she has found and sh ...more
Margitte
Imagine a little baby as the seed of beautiful flower who travels from birth to fruition through orphanages, group homes, foster care and the social system of America, never falling in fertile soil to take route and thrive? But then, as destiny would have it, Victoria Jones lands on a flower and vineyard farm in California where the secrets of the Victorian Floriography of the plants is revealed to this girl who only understood the human language of rejection and unworthiness to be loved. She cl ...more
Jeannette
Jun 19, 2012 Jeannette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This "review" forces me to think about the five star rating system. Since a number of stars reflects my own personal assessment then I need to be honest about how I feel about a book. Here is a chance to define my rating system: five stars means that the book is fascinating, readable, attention holding, has a plot, well defined characters and is well written, lyrical or poetic even. One star means I should not have read the book, why did I bother? But I did and it was good enough to finish(or sk ...more
Patty
Oct 28, 2015 Patty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
Moss doesn't have any roots, but it grows anyway, without any roots. That's what this book is about the roots that we have in our lives, or don't have. Who was your mother, what were her traits, where do you fit in, where did you come from, who are you connected to, your roots.

Victoria has spent her life in and out of foster care homes, abused, neglected, unwanted. The book flashes back to when she was in fosters homes, to when she went to live with Elizabeth at the age of 10, to her current da
...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jul 13, 2014 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Beth Knight
If you only enjoy books with likable protagonists & manly men give this one a pass. I expected some pleasant distraction about love & the Victorian language of flowers - didn’t disappoint except in the light read department. Downright dark it borders on melodrama as it tells the story of an abandoned baby deprived of a mother’s love & nurturing, illustrating the often irreparable damage done to that child’s psyche.
Victoria is caught up in a foster system that reinforces her feelings
...more
Erika
Humans have assigned meaning to various plants for centuries. That idea was taken a step further during the Victorian era with "floriography," a way of communicating messages using flowers. It was great for expressing emotion in a restrictive, ritual-driven culture. To send a message, a bouquet or boutonniere would be exchanged using blooms to convey not just love, but also friendship, a family connection, or complicated feelings.

If a man and a woman had a disagreement, he might send her purple
...more
Nomes
Aug 03, 2011 Nomes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own, 2011
The Language of Flowers is a debut novel which sparked a major international bidding war. It sold at auction for over 1 million in the US (!) ~ and for a six-figure sum in the UK and Commonwealth.

The blurb gives an awesome synopsis, but I will add a bit to it: The story itself alternates between the present and the past, a chapter at a time.

In the present, Victoria is eighteen, jobless, homeless and sleeping in a park. She manages to get a job working for a florist (she knows flowers, in an obs
...more
Lee
Nov 12, 2011 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a little conflicted about how to rate and review this one. I was really interested in the subject matter - the Victorian language of flowers. The young protagonist Victoria is a hurt and traumatized young woman after spending most of her life in foster care. After finally being released on her 18th birthday she begins a new life working with a florist and begins to bloom a little herself. The narration flips back and forth between her present life and various childhood episodes which I found ...more
Chantal
Do you ever read a book then look at all the other reviews and wonder if you've read the same book? This is that book.

I know some readers have to 'like' or care about the characters to enjoy a book. I don't: loved 'Gone Girl' for instance which I don't think had one likeable character in it. But the main character in this never felt fully fleshed out to me, I couldn't quite believe in her.

The idea of an emotionally damaged child/woman who can only really communicate through the Victorian langu
...more
Gail
Sep 16, 2011 Gail rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've come across a few articles/books as of late about the role reading can play in making a person more empathic. I had those studies in mind as I read Vanessa Diffenbaugh's "The Language of Flowers." Chiefly because, without empathy, I would have failed to fully appreciate its narrator, Victoria Jones.

A foster kid, Jones is a tough girl who blew her chance at being adopted and so, for 18 years, has bounced from group home to group home with the worst of attitudes. The book follows her life upo
...more
Angela M
Feb 28, 2014 Angela M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


I've always believed that giving flowers meant something . I knew that red roses meant love and somewhere along the line I learned that Baby's Breath , almost always in a bride's bouquet signified everlasting love . However, that was the extent of my knowledge of the meaning of flowers , originating in the Victorian era - until I read this book . Do flowers speak to us in this way ? I really don't know but it's nice to think so and the author has creatively wrapped this language around this stor
...more
B the BookAddict
Jun 09, 2014 B the BookAddict rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Angela
Shelves: fiction

This child, this self-admittedly an odd-bod, Victoria has been in the foster system since birth. Ask her who her parents are and she will say the Foster System. At age ten, she has been in thirty-nine different foster homes. She is used to, at a moment's notice, being removed or rejected by her foster parents. She travels light, everything she owns is in a small canvas bag which includes her Dictionary of Flowers. The story is told in two sequences of time; when she is ten, going to a new foster
...more
Jennifer
Aug 25, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!!!
THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS DUE OUT 19TH OF AUGUST 2011

The Language of Flowers is gritty and meaningful; it will take you deep and bring you into dark places. This debut novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is going to be top of the charts within a week. Her writing is both risky and extremely exciting; she is the type of writer you watch out for. If I could scream from the rooftops about this book I would. Sometimes when you read a book you just know this is it, this is the book that will touch your heart
...more
Laura
Feb 28, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Flower lovers and people with an interest in the foster care system
I want to write this review while the tears are still streaming down my face.

I was drawn to this book because it was written by a foster mom, and I have often thought of becoming one, or at least mentoring abused and/or foster children. The other big draw for me is that I love flowers. For years on Goodreads, my avatar was a flower, and it would change along with the seasons and my moods.

I really enjoy sending flowers to people when they least expect it. It's such a wonderful way to send happi
...more
Karen
Apr 26, 2013 Karen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carol
Sep 06, 2011 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of beauty in all its forms, florist, gardeners
Recommended to Carol by: Ann, BOTNS, NPR, book reviews
Shelves: fiction, debut
I didn't know flowers had so much to say. Certainly, "I love You" but other emotions like jealousy, hate, sorrow, passion, mistrust, never entered my mind. I heard author, Vanessa Dissenbauch, talking about her debut novel The Language of Flowers on the August 27th NPR Weekend Edition. Her decision to use flowers to tell us the story of Victoria, an abandoned child, caught up in a foster care system, shuffled from family to family, but deemed not adoptable, seemed unique. I was lucky to be the f ...more
Lisa Vegan
Feb 28, 2013 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: many readers, but particularly foster kids & former foster kids ages 12-30 and their adults
Recommended to Lisa by: Lee
4 stars

I vacillated between 4 and 5 stars for this book, but despite not being happy with everything about it, I think the story and its memorable characters are so well crafted, and it touched me so deeply and affected me so strongly, that I have to round it up and give it 5 stars. That said, I’m not sure it’s the most ideal book for my next book club discussion. I am glad I pushed for us to read it though, for selfish reasons, because I’ve wanted to read this book since it first came out and
...more
Anita
Oct 30, 2011 Anita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books, maybe the best, I've read this year. This is a story of loss, redemption, coming of age, and the power of love. A young girl coming up through the foster care system struggles without love for so long, that she can't recognize it when it comes. Her journey through the system, towards adulthood is facilitated through her knowledge of the secret language of flowers. Anyone who has worked in the floral industry will love it, those who work with children in difficult c ...more
Jennie
Sep 08, 2011 Jennie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Victoria starts her adult life an 18-year-old girl emancipate from the San Francisco foster care system. After a childhood of neglect, she miraculously blossoms into a businesswoman and mother, redeemed by an adoptive parent who teaches her to connect using the Victorian language of flowers. The author has woven a cause for social justice into a work of compelling fiction, and uses this tightly-crafted novel to inspire people to act with foster kids in mind. In this country there are nearly 20,0 ...more
Giulia
“Anyone can grow into something beautiful.”

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh was one of my favorite reads in 2013. The story is so worth reading and let me tell you, you won't be able to stop turning the pages of this one.

The story is set in California and follows the life of a unsociable and solitary teenager who tries to pull her life together after her expulsion from her Group house. Victoria Jones is alone and jobless and her only wish is to stay near her plants and to be able
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Homecoming of Samuel Lake
  • You Know When the Men Are Gone
  • Mudbound
  • The World We Found
  • Wildflower Hill
  • The Story of Beautiful Girl
  • Looking for Me
  • The Sandcastle Girls
  • A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Harold Fry, #1)
  • Dancing on Broken Glass
  • A Victorian Flower Dictionary: The Language of Flowers Companion
  • The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb
  • The Good Daughters
  • The Blood of Flowers
  • An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny
  • The Art of Hearing Heartbeats
  • Grace
4537214
VANESSA DIFFENBAUGH was born in San Francisco and raised in Chico, California. After graduating from Stanford University, she worked in the non-profit sector, teaching art and technology to youth in low-income communities. Following the success of her debut novel, The Language of Flowers, she co-founded Camellia Network (now Lifeset Network), a non-profit whose mission is to connect every youth ag ...more
More about Vanessa Diffenbaugh...

Share This Book



“Anyone can grow into something beautiful.” 160 likes
“Perhaps the unattached, the unwanted, the unloved, could grow to give love as lushly as anyone else.” 111 likes
More quotes…