The language of flowers was a Victorian-era means of communication in which various flowers were used to send coded messages, conveying romantic feelings and expressions. Sadly the language has mostly been forgotten. That is until Vanessa Diffenbaugh wrote her novel, “The Language of Flowers”.
I started reading this novel with an open mind and with no expectations. It has become one of my favorite books and has found a permanent place on my bookshelf and in my heart. I even rented the audio so that I could listen to it on my commute home from work. I found myself sitting in my car in my driveway not wanting to stop listening to the story.
I was surprised to find a book about adoption, foster care, emancipation, homelessness, and single motherhood (all topics I could not personally relate to) to be so moving and beautiful. Vanessa’s writing style just drew me into the main character and I felt everything that Victoria was feeling and going through. We witnessed her struggle to survive after spending 18 years in a foster care system that treated her poorly and turned her into a cold unfeeling young woman. It was fascinating to see how a person’s past could mold and develop their personality and emotions. Victoria was definitely a fascinating case of character development. We were by her side as she formed a friendship with her boss and found happiness in the flower shop. I cried along with her as she dealt with becoming a mother. This was the part i could connect with having a a two-year-old daughter of my own. Motherhood is extremely challenging and Vanessa showed the truth of how demanding a newborn is on its mother and how many different emotions you can feel at once. There is a fear that we will not be good mothers and Victoria felt that she could not give her daughter enough. Being a mother is a very difficult responsibility and i felt grateful to find an author that showed me that we are not alone in our feelings of inadequacy and guilt.
Vanessa also shed light on the foster care system in our country. I was unaware of the injustice that is occurring and how much it goes unnoticed. I have a deeper understanding of the realities of foster care for both the children and the foster parents.
“The Language of Flowers” filled many genres such as mystery, suspense, coming of age, and family. Her descriptions of flowers and food had a touch of sensuality and all of her characters came to life. Her encounters with various forms of love seemed genuine and not forced. I have come across so many novels that try to incorporate love and the relationship winds up feeling fake and rushed to me. Victoria needed time and the author showed that.
The dictionary at the end of the novel contains flowers and their appropriate meanings. This was a nice added bonus and I plan on using it sometime in the future like in my garden. I would love to go into a florist and tell him/her my feelings and come home with the perfect bouquet. Flowers brings a sense of connection and understanding that we can’t find elsewhere. I believe the Victorians were on to something when they created this language and I hope this novel will bring it back to life.The Language of Flowers,