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. "The Language of Flowers" is a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about the meaning of flowers, the meaning of family, and the meaning of love.
This easily makes my list of top books in 2011! It is gorgeously written and filled with realistic and memorable characters. I fell in love immediately with Victoria - her misunderstanding of human nature and her communication difficulties are oddly endearing. I was rooting for her throughout all of her struggles to understand the world around her and find her place in it. I read the second half of this book on the plane and couldn't prevent my eyes welling up with tears despite trying desperately not to look a fool in front of the other passengers and flight attendants. While sniffling was inevitable, at least I managed not to let a sob escape (not an easy feat)!
The inclusion of the Victorian language of flowers as a means of communication was another aspect that I really enjoyed - and my ARC included Victoria's dictionary of flower meanings which I just loved perusing. The way in which Victoria's flowers impacted people almost reminded me of a floral version of Chocolat. I heartily recommend The Language of Flowers to ALL readers - I can't believe this is Diffenbaugh's only fictional endeavor to date!
*I received my advanced copy courtesy of the publisher