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The Language of Flowers

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4.08  ·  Rating details ·  179,099 ratings  ·  18,699 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
Hardcover, 323 pages
Published August 23rd 2011 by Ballantine Books
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Lisa Maxwell 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)
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4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  179,099 ratings  ·  18,699 reviews


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oliviasbooks
Jan 26, 2011 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
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kari
Oct 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anne OK
Oct 17, 2012 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
Diane
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
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Linda
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"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
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Jo
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Elyse Walters
Nov 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Update: $1.99 Kindle special today.
If any of my friends ( especially women friends), have missed reading this book....
now is a good time to buy it.
Vanessa, the author, truly wrote a book about something she has direct experience with :
The Foster Care System
The LANGUAGE of flowers
Location - San Francisco. Vanessa went to Standard- lived in the Bay Area ... and is very familiar with the SF Bay Area
It's excellent - Her first book. My favorite book she wrote.




I started this book today (On Valen
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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
Erin
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Hard to put down book about mothers and daughters. I feel completely emotionally exhausted but I had to stay up and find out how everything was going to play out. If this book has escaped your attention, remedy that right away and pick it up!
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
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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.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I received this book through a postal book swap and we were just permitted to post online as we are through our rotation.

When this book first came out, I kept seeing the hard cover everywhere with its very striking image of white blossoms and a black background. It kind of had the look of a romance novel, so I hadn't tried it. My friend Kathryn read and loved it, and that had landed it on my to-read list, but I hadn't gotten around to it. I was happy to do so when it ended up in my mail, because
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jesse
Mar 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-german, own
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
Jen
Aug 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Brandice
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love flowers although my knowledge of them is fairly limited, and I really liked this story, where flowers played a central role.

The Language of Flowers is a story about Victoria, now a young woman, who was recently emancipated from the court system at 18. She struggles with feelings of abandonment and low self-esteem, as a result of a series of events from her past, stemming from growing up as an orphan. She lives in San Francisco and works in a flower shop. She has no friends, limited relat
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Justin Tate
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
I’m probably not the target audience for this book, but I’m not NOT the right audience. Thematically it reminded me a lot of Kitchens of the Great Midwest which I thought was superb.

The writing wasn’t bad, the pacing wasn’t a slog. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for another orphan story. Seems like every book has an orphan in it these day. Why? Are we in the midst of a global identity crisis? Maybe it’s just one of those random trends, like every novel having “Girl” in the title nowadays.

Anyway
...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
B the BookAddict
Feb 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Angela
Shelves: fiction

This child, this self-admitted 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 home
...more
Patty
Oct 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Angela M
Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it


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
Jeannette
Oct 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Karen
Apr 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jul 21, 2012 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
Cheri
Nov 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written story of love, redemption, forgiveness - giving and getting. For those who believe themselves to be unloved and unlovable and how they sometimes learn to love themselves despite everything they've been taught to believe of their unworthiness. Diffenbaugh certainly goes to extremes to make the main character as unworthy of the readers' belief in her as possible, as a child she is difficult at best. As an adult, she withdraws, but as her love of flowers grows, so does the visio ...more
Nomes
May 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 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
Erika
Mar 27, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Gail
Aug 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Lee
Jul 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Sonja Arlow
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
3 stars

Had this not been a book club read I would probably never have started reading it. The basic storyline and book title just sounded too much like romantic chic lit. Sometimes those are nice but restrict myself to perhaps one or two books in this genre per year.

But this was more Joshilyn Jackson than Nora Roberts

The chapters alternate between 9-year-old and 18-year-old Victoria and while time hopping in a novel can sometimes feel too jarring I think it worked very well here. Mainly becaus
...more
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Eagle Crest Book ...: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh 1 2 Dec 28, 2018 02:04PM  
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 4 Apr 30, 2017 06:33PM  
Bound Together: Language of Flowers Discussion 24 114 Dec 27, 2016 09:26AM  
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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
“Anyone can grow into something beautiful.” 181 likes
“Perhaps the unattached, the unwanted, the unloved, could grow to give love as lushly as anyone else.” 127 likes
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