It seems as though, as a librarian, I ought to blog every now and again about books.
After all, it’s not like I don’t know them.
Have a stack of ten on my desk at all times.
So, on Wednesdays, I’m going to share with you a title or two from my book stack. Some of them will be written for children or young adults, but in an effort to keep my own reading brain fully engaged in the literature of my generation, I’ll also read and write about titles written for full-fledged adults.
Friday, I finished reading The Language of Flowers: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh — a novel for adults.
Based on the title, I expected a sweet and lovely book about a middle aged woman.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
From the book jacket:
A mesmerizing, moving and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creates a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.
The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating 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 and emancipated from the system, Victoria hs nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a paintful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.
Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s greatest achievement in this book is the development of the character of Victoria. From the very beginning, I was drawn in…wanting to know more…shuddering at the stories of the foster-care system…but cheering for Victoria even through her most vicious moments.
This character is at the same time reprehensible and lovable. Hard and soft. The kid you would want to shake and then hug seconds later.
The story alternates between Victoria’s present and her past. And the timing of each step back in time is impeccable. Each moment in Victoria’s history is shared at exactly the right time to begin to answer the reader’s questions, but not always entirely…leaving me to ponder…wonder…and deliciously predict.
And as the story unfolded, I was also entranced by the Victorian language of flowers. I will never look at another flower again without having some appreciation for the meaning behind each bloom.
As Diffenbaugh’s first novel, I think it’s a triumphant success.
If you need a book for the gardener in your life, or your book club is searching for a title that the entire world hasn’t read yet, this is an excellent choice.
It’s available on Amazon in:
print – The Language of Flowers: A Novel
Kindle – The Language of Flowers: A Novel
Definitely a worthwhile read!