17 January 2013

The Language of Flowers: Book Review

There are so many layers to the world around us, and as I grow older discovery seems to be ever more fascinating. This novel is based around the Romatic Victorian language of flowers; the symbolic meanings they placed on specific flowers to convey emotion to lovers and loved ones.


The story is a about a girl in care, whose Mother gave her up as an orphan, and the profound difference a foster mother made to her life. The story is told in alternating chapters of present life at the beginning of her Twenties and the parallel of ten years past. Her foster Mother teaches her the Victorian flower symbologies as a way of conveying the locked up emotion she holds inside; which she researches and begins to create her own dialect. Once emancipated at 18, this  becomes a way for her to communicate with the world and create a livelihood learning to cope in a complex world.

"Anyone can grow into something beautiful"

This book has haunted me for days, and I kind of cried my way through the last 20% of it. The lead character Victoria really feels real and is an incredibly character. You empathise with her, hurt with her, want to shake her in annoyance, want to shout at her and want to feed her. She is complex and surprising, and makes you appreciate your family and loved ones.



This was Vanessa Diffenbaugh's debut novel, and for me it was stunning. I physically couldn't put it down, and my hubby became a book widow.

The book is written in a very compelling 'voice' with no silly trickeries or embellishments. It's simply Victoria's world view, with the limited and horrible experiences she has faced first in care, in the real world and then as a result of her actions.


I came across some really interesting information about the author, such as;

Q (via Amazon.com): If you were to represent yourself with a bouquet, which flowers would you choose and why?A: Helioptrope (devoted affection), Black-Eyed Susan (justice), Hawthorn (hope), Liatris (I will try again), Lisianthus (appreciation), and Moss (maternal love). These flowers represent how I am--devoted, affectionate, maternal, and grateful--and also how I want to be--hopeful, determined, and constantly working for justice.

And her full flower dictionary.


After diving into the book, I also had to go and buy a nice cheery bouquet (especially with the horrendous weather we have been having), and thought it would be fun to see what my flowers meant once deciphered - (but bearing in mind this is a mass produced boquet)...

Orange Rose: Fascination and Desire
Gerbera: Warmth and Creativity
Liatris: Enthusiasm, "I will try again"
Chrysanthemum: Truth

(Thank you to the Twitter crew, I didn't have a clue about what the Liatris was!)

Isn't it lovely? Flowers are such a kind gesture anyway - they have no real use except to comfort, decorate or tell someone you are in their thoughts. I don't think I'll ever buy someone flowers again without thinking of and mentioning what they mean.

This is an absoloutely gorgeous read and reels you in, hook line and sinker - one to curl up in front of a fire with and let yourself become totally absorbed.

What do your favourite flowers mean?

(Please note any links to Amazon are through my Amazon Associates account, which means I make a little money (less than 5%) from any purchases made after clicking through these links and it adds nothing to the price of your book. This helps support my book addiction, so if you are interested in buying the book, please click through the top link)

2 comments :

  1. A very good review, Emma. I like your straightforward, crisp style, carrying no affectations whatsoever. Was I supposed to proof read too? (Kidding!)
    Love the fact that you've got photos of flowers in abundance in your post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Lin, you are an absoloute gem :)

    ReplyDelete

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