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Book Review: ‘The Language Of Flowers’ By Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Hello everyone and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy. I hope you’re all well. I’m sorry I didn’t post last week – I was off on holiday for a week, but am back in the UK now and will be posting weekly! This blog post is going to be a book review on Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s stunning ‘The Language Of Flowers’. Thanks so much for reading!


‘The Language Of Flowers’ by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

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Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s ‘The Language Of Flowers’ is simply stunning, and was described by Elle as “instantly entrancing”. I stumbled upon this book via Pinterest, where it was listed as a “must-read”. I managed to grab myself a beautiful hardback copy at my local Oxfam charity shop, and read the book (very quickly) during my holiday abroad.

It’s hard to believe that ‘The Language Of Flowers’ is Diffenbaugh’s debut novel. Diffenbaugh was born in California, and after studying creative writing, she taught art and writing to youth in poorer communities. Released in March 2012, the novel was a massive hit. Good Housekeeping said “We couldn’t put it down”, and Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife, stated “Vanessa Diffenbaugh has given us a deeply human character to root for, and a heart-wrenching story with insight and compassion to spare”. I couldn’t agree more.

The novel essentially follows the protagonist Victoria Jones throughout her life, from the age of around ten to her late teenage years. Victoria is under placement of the foster care system, and the novel opens just as Victoria is turning eighteen and therefore is being let loose by the system. Due to an accident at her previous carers’ house (not going to spoil it!), Victoria is alone and has nowhere to go. The narrative very cleverly weaves back and forth in time, glimpsing back into Victoria’s stay with her previous foster parent Elizabeth, and returning forwards to her present day struggles.

What is particularly unique about ‘The Language Of Flowers’ is, well, the language of flowers. Victoria is obsessed with flowers and floristry, and this helps her through many difficult times in her life. I don’t think I’ve ever read a fiction book that places so much emphasis on flowers before. To me, this made the book stand out, and it was like nothing else I’ve read before. From scientific plant names to tips on how to make certain flowers grow; the book actually succeeded in educating me in an area I had very limited knowledge of beforehand.

The story itself is moving and powerful, and as time goes on, Victoria’s struggles increase. I will warn you now – this is not a light read. The novel is shocking and dramatic, and I was virtually sent on an emotional rollercoaster whilst reading. A fair few times, the narrative pulled strongly on my heart strings, and I was having to force myself to hold in tears. Her relationships with Elizabeth, Renata and Grant were particularly difficult at times. I absolutely fell in love with Victoria and often questioned my own lifestyle and what I would do if I found myself in similar difficult times. I was forced to think deeply about those less fortune than me, and realised just how lucky I am.

Victoria is courageous and a true role model, and I strongly believe that this book is a very important read. The quote “Anyone can grow into something beautiful”, written delicately on the front cover of my hardback copy, is very true in Victoria’s case. It’s a beautiful idea that such a troubled girl finds such solace and peace in flowers, and for that idea I salute Diffenbaugh. Victoria is able to take the negatives and blossom into the bravest, most stunning person. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel with a character in as strong as Victoria Jones. But, after reading, I now see how the quote can be applied to every single person, and truly “Anyone can grow into something beautiful”.

Very difficult issues are explored throughout the novel; the foster-care system, abandonment, troubled relationships, love, financial difficulties and much more. The narrative is full of twists and turns, and at times I was so shocked I audibly gasped and couldn’t believe what I had just read. The novel is so tense and just keeps building and building, right up until the very end. I finished the book in just a few hours, and during that time I worshipped this novel. I found that I couldn’t take a break away from reading for more than ten minutes – I was desperate to know what was going to happen to Victoria next.

I became utterly obsessed with ‘The Language Of Flowers’. I hadn’t had a book obsession this intense for quite a while before this. I really could not put it down, and I was endlessly fascinated by Victoria. My only criticism about the novel is that it was too short, counting in at 308 pages in my edition. I’d absolutely love to read more about Victoria’s life, and I’m desperate for a sequel (which will never happen)!

Overall, I loved ‘The Language Of Flowers’ with ferocious intensity. Every single word had me hooked, and I honestly could not put it down. The story was shocking and powerful, intense and difficult, emotional and inspiring, all at once. The novel is absolutely magnificent and I cannot recommend it enough. I urge each and every one of you to pick up a copy of ‘The Language Of Flowers’. It’s definitely going on my favourites list! I’ll be definitely checking out Diffenbaugh’s second novel, We Never Asked For Wings, as soon as possible too!

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Happy reading 🙂

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