The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh


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.

I have very mixed feelings about this book. Initially, I really enjoyed it. It reminded me a lot of Chocolat where the main character Vianne knows her customers’ needs and helps them with chocolates. In this book, Victoria has a gift for flowers and their meanings. She seems able to match flowers to customers and the flowers help them fulfill their wishes. There was a definite hint of magic and mysticism. Victoria has survived a difficult childhood in and out of care and uses flowers to communicate feelings that she seems unable to voice. She has built a barrier around herself, not allowing people to be close, not expecting things to go well for her, not feeling worthy of love. Without revealing any spoilers though, I became very frustrated with Victoria about midway through the book. Everything seems to be going well for her and she walks away from it all. The ending did redeem the story for me though, rather in the way that Victoria herself finds hope and a redemption of sorts.

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