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The Language of Flowers [Paperback]

Vanessa Diffenbaugh
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (379 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 3.86 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 Mar 2012

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 about the meaning of flowers, the meaning of family, and the meaning of love.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Pan (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330532014
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330532013
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (379 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"Instantly entrancing" --Elle

"[An] original and brilliant first novel . . . a mesmerizing storyteller . . . I would like to hand Vanessa Diffenbaugh a bouquet of bouvardia (enthusiasm), gladiolus (you pierce my heart) and lisianthus (appreciation). . . And there is one more sprig I should add to her bouquet: a single pink carnation (I will never forget you)." --Brigitte Weeks, The Washington Post

"A captivating novel in which a single sprig of rosemary speaks louder than words . . . 'The Language of Flowers' deftly weaves the sweetness of newfound love with the heartache of past mistakes . . . [It] will certainly change how you choose your next bouquet." --Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Fascinating . . . Diffenbaugh clearly knows both the human heart and her plants, and she keeps us rooting for the damaged Victoria." --The Oprah Magazine (Book of the Week)

"Diffenbaugh effortlessly spins this enchanting tale, making even her prickly protagonist impossible not to love." --Entertainment Weekly

"Compelling . . . immensely engaging . . . unabashedly romantic . . . an emotional arc of almost unbearable poignance."
--The Boston Globe

--Woman & Home

About the Author

Vanessa Diffenbaugh was born in San Francisco and raised in Chico, California. After studying creative writing and education at Stanford, she went on to teach art and writing to youth in low-income communities. She and her husband PK have three children: Tre’von, 18, Chela, 4, and Miles, 3. Tre’von, a former foster child, is attending New York University on a Gates Millenium Scholarship. Vanessa and her family currently live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her husband is studying urban school reform at Harvard.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
73 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite 25 Sep 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It was, I have to say, incredibly easy to fall in love with this book which was a haunting, intelligent and compelling read. The story starts with Victoria leaving the foster home where she has been living as she comes of age, and then goes back and forth in time as the strands are brought together so that we can understand how she got to be the person she is. During her turbulent life Victoria has learned the almost forgotten language of flowers, where every bloom expresses something different. As she finds work of sort with a florist she finds ways of expressing herself with flowers and the past will come back to her in a way she hasn't imagined. Will she find her place in the world and why does she struggle so much with the past? A strong story and interesting characters kept me turning the pages to find out.

Victoria was not an easy character to understand at times - I wondered if the author had drawn on her own life experiences to show someone afflicted with what seemed to be a form of attachment disorder. Some of the parts of the book were almost painful to read but throughout everything I wanted things to work out for Victoria. The author managed to conjure up a whole cast of believable and sympathetic characters along the way - from Renata the flower shop owner to Grant the strangely familiar market stall holder, and the book was well paced and beautifully written. I enjoyed every single page of this book (including the flower dictionary at the end of the book); having read glowing reviews before I read it I was somewhat worried it would disappoint - it didn't. Highly recommended this is an excellent debut from an author from whom I would like to see more.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good enough book with a bad central character 10 Sep 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I was interested in this book because of the unusual subject matter and, having some experience working with young people who have been abused/in care, I wanted to see how this young woman's life would develop.

I continued to find the subject itself interesting and would happily read more on this once-popular topic. However, I think I am in the same boat as several others who, despite enjoying the book itself, just didn't warm to Victoria. It's hard to explain - I wouldn't necessarily warn anyone off reading the book, but I do think many readers will struggle to relate to someone who, regardless of the allowances we could make for her difficult start in life, presents as an unlikeable and unsympathetic character.

The point is, Victoria DOES have people in her life who care very much for her and who give her unconditional love and support, often inexplicably, as few of these people have any obvious motivation for doing so. For example:


Renata - happy to allow this sneering, scruffy stranger to lollop about her shop, risking her livelihood and paying over the odds for the privilege. Sticking around to support Victoria and her new baby when this help is consistently thrown back in her face. Continues to be a friend even when Victoria blatantly sets up a rival business to hers! Huh??

Grant - attracted to this stroppy thing who does everything she can to make herself look unattractive, and continues to pursue her even when she blows him out over and over again.

Elizabeth - appears to be in desperate need of some therapy for abandonment issues of her own, nonetheless channels all her love into the young Victoria, cultivating a bond between the two of them to the point where Victoria finally feels like she has a home...
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
By elsie purdon TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A very unusual novel set in modern day Northern California. This took me by surprise as I had (stupidly) thought the book to be either a non fiction book on the language of flowers, or some kind of historical romantic tale.
Fortunately for me it is not.

This is the story of Victoria a young girl who has lived her life in the Californian state care system. Either being fostered or put into girl only care homes. She has been moved around a lot of times and is a very angry and isolated young person.
The book has two time lines, in the first we meet Victoria about to be emancipated from the system and has to leave the care home. She is 18 or thereabouts. Her exact birth date not known.
When she leaves the home she will be moved into a halfway hostel and is expected to find a job and pay her way. There doesn't seem to ever be any kind of practical guidance given to her from her social worker Meredith, who has been a constant though unloving and very disliked presence in Victoria's life.

In the other time line we are moving along her childhood towards the event that will define the rest of her life. When she was age 9 Victoria was delivered by Meredith to Elizabeth, a woman who lives on her own in her own vineyard. She has family nearby but is not in contact with them. This is integral to the story as it unfolds.

It is Elizabeth that teaches Victoria the language of flowers.

The writing is clear and precise just how I like it.
I found validity in the story from reading the author's background which includes her teaching art and writing to youths in low income communities.

Although the novel is about people in trouble it is also about people trying harder to communicate clearly.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Pink Carnation
I dare you to read this book and not get emotionally involved. Victoria, the main character is infuriating, broken and bratty - a typically unloved teenager trying to figure out... Read more
Published 13 hours ago by Jodie Downes
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book. In my top three books of the year (and I read a lot!) Recommended
Published 1 day ago by Sweedee
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended.
Loved this book and it is still on my Kindle for me to refer back to . The glossary at the back is very useful.
Published 1 day ago by Biddy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fabulous book
Published 8 days ago by Maggie
4.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly enjoyable read.
An interesting story weaving together the past and present about one woman's struggle, as a social solitary with little trust in institutionalised assistance, to overcome her... Read more
Published 16 days ago by PBatBP
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book. Such a good read
Wonderful book. Such a good read. Although it brings in the language of flowers, actually it is an excellent novel
Published 18 days ago by Gabrielle
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very interesting and unsual book
Published 27 days ago by Niamh Dineen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic book!
Published 27 days ago by R. E. Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't stop reading!
I found this book after following the storyline in Bones (TV Series) where the serial killer was communicating using the language of flowers and it piqued my interest. Read more
Published 1 month ago by crazycrochetmama
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Lovely read!
Published 1 month ago by azulitos
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