Diffenbaugh, Vanessa "The Language of Flowers" - 2011
When I saw this book first, I was attracted by the title. "The Language of Flowers". I love languages but I had never heard that they have a language. Of course, we all know that roses are supposed to mean love but there seems to be so much more to it.
I enjoyed reading this story very much. Set as a diary of a young girl who grew up in foster homes, this book is telling two stories at the same time, the time she spent in various institutions and homes until her eighteenth birthday and the time after. Same as the time divides the protagonist's life, the book is also divided into two different parts, the story of the girl and her problems, covering an extensive range of psychological issues she has with this world and the story of the flowers, how they came to mean something special.
I was quite happy to learn that the stephanotis I had chosen as the main flower of my bridal bouquet about thirty years ago was promising happiness in marriage, and I can say that this is entirely true. I did not like the fact that my favourite flower, the peony, stands for anger. Maybe it's a good thing they are only available for a very short time during the year.
Now, whether you believe in the language of flowers or not, this book offers so much more than just that. It picks up a lot of different topics without getting too confusing or chaotic.
You can find the whole "Flower Dictionary" on the Random House website here.
From the back cover:
"A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.
The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it's been more useful in communicating 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 and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what's been missing in her life, and when she's forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it's worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness."