The Language of Flowers
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The Language of Flowers

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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  82,188 ratings  ·  12,201 reviews
The Victorian language of flowers was used to express emotions: honeysuckle for devotion, azaleas for passion, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it has been more useful in communicating feelings like grief, mistrust and solitude.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Pan MacMillan
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oliviasbooks
Dec 03, 2013 oliviasbooks rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Linda
"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
Anne OK
Dec 04, 2013 Anne OK rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Jo
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
Diane
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
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
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
...more
Nomes
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
Juanita
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
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jul 13, 2014 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Lee
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
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.
Bette BookAddict
Jun 09, 2014 Bette BookAddict rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bette 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
Eileen Granfors
I'll review after the holiday, but let me say, I now have a new favorite book of 2011. Wonderful, beautiful, painful, truthful journey.

Often on the weekend of July 4th, I post a half-way through the year "top reading" list. I had it ready to go for my blog with my top ten short list so far. Then, I picked up "The Language of Flowers" by debut novelist Vanessa Diffenbaugh. BAM! I loved this book because it surprised me in every way: style, characters, plot points. It's not the overwrought love st...more
Jennifer
Aug 25, 2011 Jennifer rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Jennie
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
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
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
Lisa Vegan
Feb 28, 2013 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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 ½ 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
Carol
Sep 06, 2011 Carol rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Anita
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
Laura
Feb 28, 2013 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Mara
I have a feeling The Language of Flowers is going to show up in a lot of book clubs, and already it's developed some sort of mega marketing blitzkrieg, but this was just an okay read for me.

Victoria Jones loves the Victorian meaning of flowers (Get it? Her name is Victoria, just in case you might forget), which is a hobby that goes a long way in shaping her life after she's released from a group home at the age of eighteen. Alone and on the streets, she stumbles into a florist shop and fate gra...more
Angela


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
Fotooh Jarkas
My five stars expectation –that came first with the elegantly worded title “ the language of flowers” - was met in the very first chapters , but later on it unluckily diminished to four .
Victoria , the foundling baby that had been abandoned right after her birth , and Meredith the social worker who failed for 18 years to strike upon a foster family willing to breed Victoria.
It was hard task to harmonize the uneasy aggressive and troublemaker girl with the careless, loveless and cruel fosters .
A...more
Jenny

I loved this story. The first couple of chapters were hard to get through because I really didn't like Victoria - she seemed to selfish, rude, lazy and bitter; I didn't want to read a whole story filled with her bad attitude. But then you really get to know what's in her heart and head and how she's trying to change. The characters were all very well written - lots of varying personalities, but they all were instantly real people to me. I was totally engrossed in the story - needing to find out...more
Katharine
Meh.

Worse than 'meh'. Meh was my reaction early in the novel as I realized how poorly it was written, that the plot made no sense and the characters were not fleshed out in a literary manner. There was a feeble attempt at magical realism.

Then it got worse. This book read like a Hallmark movie; a lame Cinderella plot; stupid sentences like "The Golden Gate Bridge was deserted" (there were more, I wish I had marked them) There were verbs being used over and over, but I didn't mark them either.

Wer...more
Kathleen
I'm not sure why, but I just didn't connect with this book like so many other reviewers. Somewhere around the middle I started to want to pick apart the story holes, and it turned from a "based-on-a-true-story" angsty read into a "come-on-are-you-kidding-me" read. The premise is good: a girl who is traumatized as a child and who bounces around from foster care home to group homes ages out of the foster care system and ends up homeless and living in a park. She plants and tends a garden of flower...more
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Vanessa Diffenbaugh was born in San Francisco and raised in Chico, California. After studying creative writing and education at Stanford, she went on to teach art and writing to youth in low-income communities. She and her husband, PK, have three children: Tre’von, eighteen; Chela, four; and Miles, three. Tre’von, a former foster child, is attending New York University on a Gates Millennium Schola...more
More about Vanessa Diffenbaugh...
A Victorian Flower Dictionary: The Language of Flowers Companion The Language of Flowers: A Miscellany

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“Anyone can grow into something beautiful.” 118 likes
“Perhaps the unattached, the unwanted, the unloved, could grow to give love as lushly as anyone else.” 77 likes
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