Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Victorian language of flowers has most often been used to convey messages of romance and affection, but Victoria Jones, a young woman who has been dealt some harsh blows by life, uses it to express grief, anger, and mistrust.

After spending most of her life in the foster care system, Victoria can no longer trust anyone. The only way this antisocial young woman can connect with others is through the language of flowers, which she learned from a foster mother, Elizabeth, the woman she thought would be her savior but let her down worse than any before.

At eighteen, released to make a life on her own, she sleeps in the park, where she plants and tends her own garden, until a local florist, Reneta, discovers her talent.

Working for Reneta, Victoria discovers that she has a gift--she can help others with the flowers she chooses and arranges for them.

In the flower market, Victoria meets Elizabeth's nephew, Grant. They converse, warily at first, through the language of flowers. But Grant is persistent. When he gives her white poplar, Victoria, uncertain of the meaning, goes to the library to look it up. It is then that she discovers that the language of flowers is not as precise as she thought. Elizabeth always said "the language of flowers in nonnegotiable" but the books at the library reveal that there are often numerous and contradictory meanings for each bloom. So Victoria begins compiling a dictionary of her own with Grant's help. Their friendship soon blossoms into romance and Victoria becomes pregnant, but will her fear of trust, destroy her chance at true happiness? And you know I'm not telling; I won't spoil it for you.

I remember finding a book about the language of flowers at the library when I was a little girl, so this book was a real treat for me to read. The author has also published A VICTORIAN FLOWER DICTIONARY THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS COMPANION with Mandy Kirkby, which, though I haven't read it yet, I was pleased to add to my reference library.

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