Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Today: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The buzz around Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s debut has been intense. Before I began to read The Language of Flowers (Ballantine) I couldn’t imagine that the book could possibly live up to the hype. And it doesn’t. In many ways, it exceeds it.

“For eight years, I dreamed of fire,” the book begins. “Trees ignited as I passed them; oceans burned. The sugary smoke settled in my hair as I slept, the scent like a cloud left on my pillow as I rose.”

Our narrator is Victoria Jones, raised in foster care, she’s now 18 and, with no real place to go and no clear idea of what she should do with her life, she finds herself drawn to working with growing things. In the local park, with her green thumb on full display, she is discovered by a florist, who helps Victoria discover and develop her fluency in the language of flowers. It’s a skill that will ultimately lead her to find what is missing in her own life... and more.

Victoria is well named and possibly not coincidentally. The Language of Flowers that the title references is an idea from the Victorian era. It was then also sometimes called floriography and it dealt with the idea that flowers and their arrangement could send messages. It makes for a nice backdrop against which to lay a worthwhile coming of age story. The Language of Flowers is the very best of that breed. Look for this one to spend the next decade high on book club readings lists. And that’s a good thing: it’s a terrific book with a lot of interesting components for discussion.

This one is likely to make my best of the year list. Diffenbaugh has come out of the gate with a bang.

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Anonymous Shelley said...

This book was written in Sacramento, where I also write, and there's a big article about Diffenbaugh in Monday's Sacramento Bee. It can probably be read via Internet....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 8:48:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Here's a link to the Sac Bee article!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 4:27:00 PM PDT  

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