Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Language of Flowers

Finished The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I enjoyed this book, although it was a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me.

I remember a whole wall of this book displayed on the first floor of the Barnes & Noble on Madison Avenue in New York City, in the fall of 2012. It had been a while since Borders' Ann Arbor headquarters had closed. I felt the need to be in a big, beautiful bookstore and waited outside for 20 minutes until it opened on Saturday morning. I thought about buying the book then, but already had so many others with me for the trip that I declined.

As an orphan, Victoria Jones has been shunted around from foster home to group home most of her life. Her case worker warns her when she is ten, that going to live with Elizabeth at the vineyard is her last chance. The situation turns out much better than Victoria expected. She learns to trust Elizabeth and learns all about the Victorian practice of sending messages via flowers. Each flower has a meaning, some of them not very favorable. Just when Victoria thinks she has found her place in the world things go terribly wrong and she finds herself once more a victim of a less than perfect social services system.

Emancipated at eighteen, Victoria focuses her whole life on flowers. She starts her own garden in a public park where she sleeps, spends hours studying texts on the Victorian language of flowers at the public library, and lands a job with a local florist whose customers realize that this strange young girl is preparing more than just bouquets for them. When Victoria meets a man who "speaks her language," the encounter sets in motion an unexpected future and reconciliation of the past

When I was growing up I was fascinated with my mother's edition of The Language of Flowers and have my own copy now. It sits on the table in my upstairs reading nook.

Too bad all these varieties are not still available for the conveying of secret messages.

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