Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh: a poetic and powerful story

The Victorian language of flowers was used to express emotions: honeysuckle for devotion, azaleas for passion, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it has been more useful in communicating feelings like grief, mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.
Now eighteen, Victoria has nowhere to go, and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. When her talent is discovered by a local florist, she discovers her gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But it takes meeting a mysterious vendor at the flower market for her to realise what's been missing in her own life, and as she starts to fall for him, she's forced to confront a painful secret from her past, and decide whether it's worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.
The Language of Flowers is a heartbreaking and redemptive novel from author Vanessa Diffenbaugh, about the meaning of flowers, the meaning of family, and the meaning of love.

My review:

This is a powerful and poetic story about a young woman trying to find her place in life. Victoria's relationship with flowers is a fabulous metaphor for how she sees the world and the people in it. The exquisite prose and the sympathetic main character drive the story along and the time-shift scenes between then and now are superbly done. The only reason it didn't get 5 stars was because I thought the ending was too weak and it was too obvious that a lesson was being learnt - whereas I'd have preferred the character's fantastic voice to remain as gripping as it had been up until the final chapter. Still, a great novel and I shall look out for more from this author.

Anne Brooke

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