Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Language of Flowers - Review and Giveaway

by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, narrated by Tara Sands, Audible Audio, 10 hrs., 50 min, August 2011

This is a story that will stick with you for a long time.

This is the story of Victoria Jones, who at age 18 has been emancipated from the foster care system.  It is a story that will stick with you for a long time.  Victoria has been placed unsuccessfully in numerous foster care homes by a social worker who only seems happy when she has passed the burden of Victoria to someone else.  When Victoria is freed of this system she is bitter, angry and unable to connect with most people.  She decides to live in a small park and plant a flower garden.  She was introduced to flowers and their meanings (the language) by Elizabeth a woman who had wanted to adopt Victoria when she was younger.  The story is told by alternating chapters from Victoria’s life 10 years ago and her life today.   She is hired by a florist and her natural ability with flowers allows her by sheer willpower to put together a life.  She has an uncanny ability to arrange and choose flowers that communicate the feelings of the giver.  She becomes successful at this and almost is able to overcome her aloneness and find happiness.  She connects with another florist, Grant and they develop a relationship.  You are told the back-story of her childhood in small pieces.  She is taken in by Elizabeth and very nearly adopted, we don’t know the reason it failed until late in the story.  I don’t want to give away much of this plot as it is lovingly doled out by the author over the entire book. 

The author’s use of flowers and their meanings, developed by Victorians in the late nineteenth century, adds an unusual dimension to the story.  Evidently there was an entire language of flowers.  When a Victorian maiden would receive a bouquet she would rush to interpret the sender’s meaning - Helioptrope (devoted affection), Black-Eyed Susan (justice), Hawthorn (hope), Liatris (I will try again), and Lisianthus (appreciation).

This is really a novel about relationships and how imperfect they can be.  Just when you hope that Victoria will triumph and sustain a loving relationship the insecurities of her childhood rise up and overwhelm her.  This is an emotional rollercoaster of a story that in the end does allow imperfect people who love to be rewarded for their persistence, but getting there will take its toll on the reader.  I listened to the audio version of this book and Tara Sands the narrator was superb! 

This book is just being released in paperback and the publisher has given me a copy for giveaway, if you are interested follow the directions to the right of this box.  Giveaway ends May 28.  This book would be a great bookclub read.
I listened to audio of this book borrowed from The Free Library of Philadelphia


Zibilee said...

I read and loved this book, and it was one of my favorites of the year so far. I found Victoria's story to be so heartbreaking, and the inclusion of the language of flowers was just the extra touch that launched this book into the spectacular. It was soul crushing at times but it ended on a note of extreme hope, which I admired. I am so glad that you loved this book and rated it highly!

Carole said...

Love your review. I felt the same way about this book.
Even when you thought you knew what was coming - there was usually something unexpected around the next bend.
I did struggle a little bit with believing someone so dysfunctional and disconnected could actually pull it together - but that is small quibble. Overall I think I liked this story because it was "different".

I also would put in a plug for the audio version as the reader was excellent.

Constance said...

I'm following this blog and would love to participate in the Giveaway to win "The Language of Flowers". From your review it looks like a very interesting read, that I never would have found otherwise.


Constance said...

Forgot my email! It's

Anonymous said...

would like to win email is

Liss Martz said...

I've heard great things about this book. And I love your review, I just can't wait to read it. Thanks for the giveaway
GFC: Liss125
lissette_125 at hotmail dot com