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The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

After a blissful week of not staring at my computer screen for 40+hours a week, I’ve returned from vacation and returned to not only the real world, but to blogging.  While I was away, I read two wonderful books that I can’t wait to write about BUT before I get to that, I actually read one book immediately following A Dance with Dragons.  This book was The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

The Language of Flowers was a quick read; I was able to finish it in about two days.  The way Diffenbaugh weaves her story makes it really hard to put down the book.  The novel is told in first person narrative by its main character, Victoria.  Victoria was put up for adoption as a child and the chapters alternate between two different time periods in Victoria’s life: life as a nine year old with one of her foster mothers, Elizabeth and life as a newly emancipated eighteen year old.  No matter the time period of the chapter, the novel is always concerned with the Victorian language of flowers.  Each flower has its own special meaning and flowers are given to convey this meaning to their recipient.  The chapters surrounding nine year-old Victoria slowly put together the story of her relationship with Elizabeth, her hope that she’ll be adopted as Elizabeth’s daughter and the horrible event that eventually prevents this.  As an eighteen year-old who has been emancipated from the system, Victoria sleeps on the street until her talents with flowers land her a job with a florist.

This novel is really about Victoria’s ability to make and break relationships.  Victoria, it seems, is incapable of accepting love, or even simple help, from the people around her.  This, at times, was frustrating because she is surrounded by good people, however I was constantly compelled to keep reading to see why this is the case.

I really enjoyed this book.  After being engrossed in A Song of Ice and Fire for so long, it was a refreshing change of pace to be able to finish a book in less than a week.

Nothing says “lifetime of happiness” than a bouquet that symbolizes anger, right?

The book also changed my entire perception about flowers.  I’ve always loved peonies in wedding bouquets but based on the fact that they mean anger in the Victorian language of flowers, I’m not sure I’ll ever look at them the same way.  I considered it lucky that my favorite flowers, daffodils, had the much happier meaning of new beginnings!  As a wonderful bonus, there is a dictionary of flowers included at the back of the book.  Check out The Language of Flowers for its sweet story and to see if those flowers you’ve been giving actually mean “I hate you” instead of your intended well wishes.