Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Language of Flowers

By Vanessa Diffenbaugh

2012 Finalist in Women’s Fiction genre; Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), The Reading List

2011 Winner of School Library Journal's Adult Books 4 Teens

Victoria Jones is finally free of the foster-care system in which she had spent her childhood.  She has just turned eighteen and wants to be alone, having developed a deep mistrust of society.  However Victoria has an intrinsic desire to help people and finds herself using what she knows about hidden meanings of flowers to do it.  Applying this knowledge, taught to her by a much loved foster mother, Victoria discovers self-worth that may allow her to trust and love.   But she’ll have to decide if it’s all worth the risk by facing a secret in her past.

With her lyrical, moving narrative style, Vanessa Diffenbaugh writes from the first person perspective of Victoria.  She faces the details of Victoria’s perceptions and truth with a raw tone that manages to also be sensitive and beautiful.

A Victorian Flower Dictionary:  The Language of Flowers Companion by Mandy Kirkby with foreword by Vanessa Diffenaugh

Throughout history, flowers have been a part of everyday life and ceremony.  Traditionally roses are given to represent love.  Red, long-stemmed roses are still a very popular gift on Valentine’s Day.  But what about pink roses?  Orange? Yellow?   This companion to The Language of Flowers includes a short forward by Diffenbaugh, giving a history of flowers, highlighting the Victorian era when horticulture and gardens were popular.

This pretty little book features fifty descriptions of common flowers that include appropriate prose, meanings, and simple illustrations that make me want to spread out a blanket in a sunny garden to read.  Near the end you’ll also find a long list of flowers with definitions, as well as a guide for choosing flowers for special occasions.
If you enjoyed the rich details and the compelling story of Victoria in The Language of Flowers, you may want to try The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, another character-driven story of the struggle to triumph over loss and adversity.

Review by Rebekah K.

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