Recently I finished reading a really great book by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, called The Language of Flowers. The title is derived from the Victorian Era, when many plants and flowers were assigned a certain meaning. Back then, a young gentleman may have given his sweetheart a bouquet of flowers and she would immediately begin deciphering the message he was trying to convey with each flower. As an example, today we associate red roses with romance. Just about every other flower in existence has a particular message to send, but today those meanings are all but forgotten. I have no doubt that many brides have picked a certain flower for their wedding, thinking that it is simply a beautiful flower, when in reality it is a flower that symbolises death.
Anyway – on to the book itself. The narrative follows 18 year old Victoria. Abandoned at birth, she has been in and out of group homes her entire life and was never successfully adopted out to a family. We meet her on her 18th birthday, when she is officially emancipated from the State and must now go out, find a job and start building a life for herself. Unfortunately for Victoria, a life of rejection and living in share houses has done nothing for her personality – she is a very angry young woman and completely uninterested in building relationships with anyone. The only light that she has in her life, are flowers and the special meaning that each one holds. This knowledge itself comes from a dark period in her life – it is from a time when she was almost adopted and loved at the age of ten. The story moves back and forth between Victoria in the present and as she was at age ten and while her past has little to offer at first, we are gradually able to piece together what made her the way she is and learn more about the tragic event that culminated in her not being adopted.
I found myself entirely immersed in this book. You know a book is good, when you start reading it on the train and don’t look up to see where you are until an hour later. Not only was the writing itself wonderful, but the characters were so well created that it was easy to become emotionally attached to them, Victoria in particular. Knowing what she has been through and what she goes through over the course of the book, you want a happy ending for her. The story, while sad at times, is well thought out and I am sure is not dissimilar to the stories of many young people growing up without parents. I really loved this book and I will definitely read it again.
RATING – 9 out of 10. Well written, a wonderfully touching story and easy to get lost in.
WHO SHOULD READ IT – It probably caters more to women than men, but I think anyone who reads it would enjoy it, whether you like flowers or not!
WHO YOU’LL LOVE – Love probably isn’t the right word to describe how I felt towards Victoria. I think a more accurate description would be a feeling of sympathy. She is a very complex character that has endured a lot of hardship in her short life, so it is difficult not to feel something towards her