peg's Reviews > The Language of Flowers

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
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Jun 03, 2012

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bookshelves: fiction

** spoiler alert ** I am not sure how to rate this book.

"The Language of Flowers" is a story about a woman who falls victim of a failed foster system as a young child. As a result,the protagonist suffers from a detachment disorder and has tremendous difficulty with any type of intimacy. ("I don't like to be touched.")Her fears of rejection are so toxic that she unwittingly sabotages every opportunity to develop meaningful,long-lasting relationships. While living with a woman who intends to adopt her at the age of 10,Victoria develops a keen appreciation of flowers and the meanings assigned to each flower in the Victorian tradition. She becomes facinated by the natural world and discovers that she is able to use the language of flowers as an effective vehicle of expression. It is a beautiful story and Diffenbaugh's prose is magnificent. Her descriptions of flowers and food is sensuous and her compassion for society's discarded children and the importance of family is heartfelt.

However,I felt that the author's allusion to flowers was a little heavy handed starting with the protagonist's name,Victoria. The group home where Victoria lives as an adolescent is called The Gathering House. At one point in Victoria's courtship with a young man who also knows the language of flowers, Victoria explains," I'm more of a thistle-peony-basil kind of girl." Really? Maybe it's me but at times I felt like I was being hit over the head with a sufficatingly heavily-scented bouquet.

Victoria eventually finds her niche in society and is able to rise from the ashes to live happily ever after with her own true love. This ending felt contrived and things came together hastily and a little too neatly for my liking. The stark reality of growing up in a thorny foster care environment ends like a fairy tale.

Despite my criticism, I do recommend this novel. It is a beautiful story and it does have its merits. I loved the discussion and descriptions about the many types of flowers and I felt that Diffenbaugh gave an accurate and sympathetic portrayal of what many foster children experience. I obviously have mixed feelings about the book. Maybe I just need to stop and smell the roses. (Sorry, I couldn't resist inserting that last comment.)
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by D. (new) - rated it 5 stars

D. Peg ~ Hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. Can't wait to read your review when you finish.

message 2: by peg (new) - rated it 3 stars

peg Thanks,Diane. I'm enjoying the book already. I will definitely write a review when I finish the book.

message 3: by D. (new) - rated it 5 stars

D. Great review, Peg. Balanced interpretation. I highly recommend the book for anyone needing an uplifting book to read.

Lisa Vegan Peg, While I agree with everything you say, I really loved the book.

message 5: by peg (new) - rated it 3 stars

peg I liked the book,too, Lisa. It's strengths definitely outweigh any criticisms I have.

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