Friday, September 2, 2011

The Language Of Flowers: A Review

Vanessa Diffenbaugh  - The Language Of Flowers

When Was It Released?: 23rd August 2011
Where Did I Get It From?:  Quinne Rogers at Ballantine Publishing was kind enough to send this copy in exchange for an honest review
Who Published It?:  Ballantine

Can flowers change the way in which you look at the world? Well this is the premise of the debut novel The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I had heard many great things about this novel before it was released and so I was excited to give it a go, even though it is not a novel that I would typically read, and see if it would live up to my expectations. Let me tell you it lived up to and exceeded them.

Victoria Jones has spent her childhood in the foster care system leaving her unable to get close to anyone. Victoria finds her solace in the Victorian language of flowers, which is used to express emotions. Once Victoria turns eighteen she is left with no home, leaving her to sleep in the public park, where she plants a garden of her own. Soon her talent with flowers is noticed by a florist, and is offered a job, once the florist discovers Victoria’s gift in helping other people through the message of flowers. Victoria ends up meeting a vendor at the local flower market and realizes, through him, what is missing from her own life. Soon Victoria begins to fall for the vendor and she is forced to confront a painful secret that has so far been buried in her past. Will she be able to move forward and create a life for herself or will she end up falling back on old feelings that she is not good enough. The Language Of Flowers is a heartbreaking novel about the meaning of flowers, family and love.

The chapters alternate between the present day and Victoria’s time spent in one of her foster homes with Elizabeth. I really enjoyed the way this built the back story of where Victoria has come from and what she has been through, while still moving forward with the present day story and towards exactly what secret Victoria has to hide. My intrigue was kept focused throughout the entire novel, leaving me wanting to know about Victoria’s secret right through to the very end of the novel. The emotions and feelings conveyed throughout the novel were so real and raw, capturing exactly how hard life has been for Victoria. The message that Vanessa wanted to convey about the foster care system came through loud and clear and will leave you with a better understanding of the reality involved.

We really got an insight into exactly how Victoria feels through the events that occur during her life. The character of Victoria is so well written that every emotion she was feeling I felt for her too. I also loved how Vanessa Diffenbaugh manages to create not only a character you love in Victoria, but many other characters you will also fall in love with; Elizabeth and Renata in particular. Both characters are strong and provide light in Victoria’s otherwise dark life, however they do not detract away from the importance of Victoria’s character. Flowers play a large role in the novel and this was something that I really enjoyed more than I thought I would. I loved finding out the different meanings behind each flower, and I will defiantly be consulting the meanings before buying flowers for someone. Vanessa manages to make learning about these flowers interesting and intriguing as she weaves them into Victoria’s life. We learn about many of the flowers as Victoria herself does which results in us learning more about Victoria as well as the flowers. The descriptions Vanessa uses throughout the novel brings the flowers to life on the page and makes it easy to forget that you are just reading a novel. I do not want to give too much away, but I also loved the ending, which left me very satisfied at once I had finished reading.

The Language Of Flowers is quite a sombre and dark novel, taking a look at the reality of the foster care system and the children involved in it. Some readers may find the novel too depressing at times, with Victoria’s life being quite dark. I myself did not find this to be the case, rather I found it very realistic. If you want an uplifting novel, however, then Language Of Flowers is defiantly not for you.

I would recommend The Language Of Flowers to everyone, it was a great thought provoking read. I was enchanted by this novel and the way in which we learn about the maternal nurturing of mothers and how sometimes life can be a lot harder than we could ever realise. A stunning debut from Vanessa Diffenbaugh; I could not tear myself away from this novel from start to finish. This is a novel I will come back to again and again and will stay with you long after you have turned the last page. I look forward to reading more from Vanessa in the future. 


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