Quick Book Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Rating: 4.5/5
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.

About Judith
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com and bookhelpline.nl. We edit books and articles for independent writers.

24 Responses to Quick Book Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

  1. I wasn’t blown away by this book like many others seem to have been. It was an “OK” read for me. Glad you enjoyed it though 🙂

  2. Books with rather unpleasant or unsympathetic people always are rather hard to read… Glad you enjoyed it though, Judith

  3. I’ve had this on my shelf for a long time, but never been tempted to try it. I’ve seen a very mixed response, but your positive review is tempting me. I think I’ll give it a try soon.

  4. mpartyka says:

    I didn’t love this book while reading it but when I reflect back, it was a good complete story. Victoria was a sad, lonely person… that’s for sure.

  5. Cindy says:

    Still, you rate it quite highly, which would make me read it.

  6. ClaireMcA says:

    I keep seeing this book being mentioned, intriguing. If it passes by me I may have to stop it.

  7. suzigun says:

    I’ve almost finished this book and although I still can’t see what all the fuss was about (perhaps the last pages will be fuss-worthy . . .) I am enjoying it more than the opening of the book led me to believe I would. I’m not sure how much the book tries to deal with the tough situation these teenagers find themselves in – it rather seemed to gloss over the hardships Victoria suffered before she became more settled. Looking forward to getting to the bottom of the “mysterious incident” though!

  8. What a beautiful cover. I am so jealous you’re able to read it in a different language. I’ve got to learn. Sounds like a pleasant read.

  9. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    I loved this book, I’m glad you enjoyed it too!

  10. Leslie says:

    I liked this book a lot. And I read it in only a few days, which for me is very fast. The flower part was what originally drew me to the book, but I did get involved in Victoria’s story. I gave her a bit of slack because of her background, but she did do one thing I just couldn’t rationalize (towards the end, I won’t say so as not to spoil it) but other than that, one of my favorites last year.

    • Leeswammes says:

      I liked the book a lot, Leslie, but it’s not a favorite. I just miss a bit of a connection with Victoria, I think. But it’s a good read and indeed, a fast one.

  11. Uniflame says:

    To me this was one of the best books I’ve read in 2011. But your already knew that 🙂

  12. Pingback: The Language of Flowers – Vanessa Diffenbaugh | Novel Heights

  13. mesetageresenfranglais says:

    I read it two weeks ago and I really enjoyed it. I thought the idea of the book and to communicate with flower was really poetic. Yes Victoria is hard to understand sometimes and hard to bond with but this is the hole point of the book. Can people change when they haven’t been given love in the first place, about forgiveness as well.

I love comments! Let me know what you think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: