Quick Book Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
January 26, 2012 24 Comments
I got this book: from the library
I read this in: Dutch (De verborgen taal van bloemen), the original language is English
Number of pages: 384
First published: 2011
Genre: contemporary fiction
This was a nice and quick read about a quite unpleasant girl although I did warm to a little after a while. Victoria Jones turns 18 when the book starts and is placed in a half-way house for teenagers like her, after having spent most of her life in an orphanage.
We soon find out that she hasn’t always been in an orphanage: she has been placed with numerous foster families when she was young, but always behaved badly, usually because she was treated outrageously bad herself. At the age of nine she’s placed with Elizabeth, a single lady who runs a vineyard. At Elizabeth’s, she finally feels at home and happy. But something happens and she has to leave again.
Elizabeth has taught her the Victorian language of flowers and this is the only real knowledge she has and that she’s interested in (obsessed with, even). This means that each flower has a particular meaning, for instance, red rose is love, basil is hate.
As she is an awkward, non-conformist type of girl she’s struggling to build up even the barest of existences. When she gets confronted with elements from her old, happy, life with Elizabeth, she has to choose between running away or facing her past, and her future.
As I said, Victoria isn’t a nice person. She refuses any help and makes life hard for herself with her behaviour. It is nice to see how her knowledge of flowers helps her build a new life working in a flower shop, but in the background is still the old awkward Victoria who wants to take care of everything herself until that isn’t possible any more and she breaks down.
It is frustrating how Victoria doesn’t let others love her and help her, but it’s also understandable. I was not expecting things to go well for her (neither was she) but I was hoping they would (she didn’t seem to care).
A well-written, interesting story about the issues children have to face when released out of foster care at 18.