In Victorian times, before there was texting and Facebooking, there was floriography. This “language of flowers” used various flowers and floral arrangements to send coded messages to others. It allowed individuals to express feelings that they might not want to speak aloud.
“The Language of Flowers,” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh introduces a young woman aptly named Victoria who has an affinity for flowers and their meanings. She can communicate through flowers what she cannot communicate through words or any other way.
Victoria grew up in the foster care system. When she turns eighteen, it is time for her to find a job and take care of herself. She becomes homeless and plants and cultivates a garden of her own in a public park. When a florist discovers her talents, Victoria also realizes that she has a gift for choosing the right flowers for the right occasions for the right people.
Victoria is not a likable character. She is mean. She makes very bad choices. She has been hurt so much in her life that she hesitates to let anyone into her life. But I found myself drawn to her. I sympathized with her. I wanted to go back in time and take care of her as a 9 year old and tell her that everything was going to be okay.
This book takes place in the present as well as Victoria’s past. We find out why Victoria became the way she is.
I cried while reading this book. I sobbed while reading this book. I know some people might find it a bit sentimental, but I could not stop reading it. I read the book in one sitting.
Some people I have talked to feel like the character is so unlikable that they could not relate to her at all. I guess I have always had a soft spot for children in the foster care system. I was glad Victoria was a fictional character, but I worry so much that there are many children in our system that are just like her. It breaks my heart that they children can slip through the cracks.
The story was not the only thing that I loved about the book. There was so much information about this Victorian Language of Flowers that I had to know more! I find it fascinating all of the meanings of the various flowers. And flowers that so many of us associate with certain feelings, mean the opposite! For example, I have always thought of sunflowers as being happy and bright and cheerful, but the Victorian meaning is “haughtiness.”
At the end of the book, Diffenbaugh encloses Victoria’s dictionary of flowers and their meanings. It is definitely a reference that I will use in the future. This book made me want to send flowers to a friend. Of course, I haven’t done that, yet. I always figured, why send flowers when you can send chocolate? Is there a Language of Chocolate out there? That is something I need to get fluent in.