Becky's Reviews > The Language of Flowers

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
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Mar 12, 12

bookshelves: for-fun
Read in March, 2012

This novel alternates between chapters written in the "present day" and chapters written from the point of the main character 10 years earlier, when she was 10.

The main character is a 20-year-old, socially closed-off, young woman who was raised in foster homes and group homes until she was sent off on her own with no coping skills at age 18. The author does a nice job explaining how crappy this girl's life was, without becoming overly sentimental.

The flashback chapters follow Victoria, the unwanted child, to a foster home where she meets Elizabeth, a single woman with a skill for flowers and a vineyard she is trying to run all on her own. The two forge an unlikely bond, until Elizabeth's mentally ill older sister needs more of her time and young Victoria takes it personally and commits some rash mistakes.

This book has lots of up and downs....a character that distrusts everyone, and by the end of the novel, learns to love and trust. What I appreciated about this novel, was the utter lack of schmaltz and mush on the part of the author. And trust me...this book could have went to schmaltz-town on a bullet train, so I'm pretty impressed that the story was able to become emotionally stirring without turning into the screenplay of a Lifetime Movie.

Of course, as the title suggests, there are plenty of references to Victorian Era's "language of flowers", wherein each flower had a very specific meaning if it was given to someone else. Just another way for the Victorians to talk about sex without actually having to say the word. And that is always interesting to read about.

Overall, I recommend this book pretty highly. An especially impressive effort, as well, from a first-time novelist.
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