28 Nov 2012

The Language of Flowers

 I have just finished a novel that had me totally enthralled.  The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  The synopsis says:-

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, 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 spotted 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.

acacia - secret love
The Language of Flowers is a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about the meaning of flowers, the meaning of family and the meaning of love.

white clover - think of me
"I exhaled, momentarily relieved.  Dropping my eyes to the table, I noticed a small bouquet of white flowers.  It was tied with a lavender ribbon and placed on top of my bowl of pasta.  I studied the delicate petals before flicking it off my food.  My mind filled with stories I'd heard from other children, tales of poisoning and hospitalizations.  I glanced around the room to see if the windows were open, in case I needed to run.  There was only one window in the room of white wood cabinets and antique appliances: a small square above the kitchen sink, with miniature blue glass bottles lining the windowsill.  It was shut tight.

I pointed to the flowers. " You can't poison me, or give me medicine I don't want, or hit me - even if I deserve it.  Those are the rules."  I glared across the table when I said it and hoped she felt my threat.  I had reported more than one person for spanking.

"If I were trying to poison you, I would give you foxglove or hydrangea, maybe anemone, depending on how much pain I wanted you to feel, and what message I was trying to communicate."

Curiosity overcame my dislike of conversation.  "What're you talking about?"

"These flowers are starwort," she said.  "Starwort means welcome.  By giving you a bouquet of starwort, I'm welcoming you to my home, to my life."  She twirled buttery pasta on her fork and looked into my eyes without a glimmer of humour."

forsythia - anticipation
At the back of the book is a whole dictionary of what flowers mean - the lost art of the language of flowers.
jonquil - desire
An intriguing novel that had me on the edge of my seat a few times.  Heart-wrenching and sad and totally captivating.  Well worth a read.


  1. Oh Elaine you've whetted my appetite. Thanks for sharing it.
    Patricia x

    1. I passed it straight on to one of my friends and it had the same effect on her too.

  2. It sounds a great book.. and looks like you met your target too??

    1. Yes I did meet my target and am relieved that I got to the end - some days I never thought I would make it.

    2. Oh well done. That's a terrific achievement. Don't leave it there.. hone it and complete it.

  3. Sounds like a good read, I've always been intrigued by the meaning of flowers and herbs both in history and the present day. Seeing Jessica's comment made me look at your writing challenge award - I love the 'no excuses' bit - congratulations:)


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