The passing of another month (wait, already?) means yet another finished book to talk about – this time, New York Times Bestseller The Language of Flowers: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. If you remember from this post earlier in the month, I would one day like to work with flowers and because of that, I jump at every opportunity to surround myself with the flora. So when I saw Camille Styles mention the book on her blog, I was pretty positive that I would be making it my September read (and look how well that actually worked out).
The Language of Flowers chronicles the story of Victoria Jones, a girl who was abandoned by her birth mother and spent the first 18 years of her life jumping from foster home to foster home until she became of age and had to become responsible for herself. The book switches between the story of Victoria as a young girl trying to make a home with Elizabeth, one of her foster mothers, and Victoria as an 18-year-old girl struggling to survive on her own.
Throughout the book, the reader learns about the language of flowers, which was apparently used back in the Victorian era as a way that men and women communicated to each other during courtship (I knew that some flowers had meaning, but I had no idea there was an entire language – awesome). Victoria was introduced to the language of flowers when living with Elizabeth (she owned a vineyard, but also had a passion for flowers). As an adult, Victoria called on the language to help her find herself a job, make a career, and eventually develop a relationship (coincidentally with Elizabeth’s estranged nephew, Grant). As the book progresses, we see more and more of Victoria’s childhood and adulthood coming together, and despite being two very separate points in her life, the book manages to merge each of Victoria’s stories perfectly into one until we find ourselves with a pretty encompassing and complete life story.
I’ve been lucky in my monthly book selections in that I’ve yet to choose a read that I didn’t like – The Language of Flowers is no exception. I found myself excited to dive into the pages each night, ready to dig deeper into Victoria’s troubled past…so much so that (against my better judgment) I had some later than preferred nights because I just had to find out what happened next (that need to connect the dots of Victoria’s life really screwed with my sleep schedule for a week). Anyway, it’s a great book. I loved that Diffenbaugh found a way to seamlessly integrate this really antiquated language into modern day situations, and allowed flowers to be the focus of the book without taking away from the actual story (did that sentence even make sense?). PLUS, the author even included a flower dictionary in the back of the book so that we could learn the language of flowers for ourselves – although, I was a little sad to find out that the hydrangea (my favorite flower) signifies dispassion.
But overall, it’s a great book. So enjoyable, in fact, that it has been passed around my office, pages dog-eared over and over again. A definite must read for anyone looking to be lost in story that is real, yet slightly romanticized.
Have you read The Language of Flowers? What did you think? Also, while I’ve got October’s book decided, I’m currently taking suggestions for my November and December reads, so if you have any good books, please share!