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The Language of Flowers: A Novel (Hardcover)

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September 2011 Indie Next List


“During the Victorian era, flowers conveyed expressions of love and were often used as a form of communication. Victoria Jones, an abandoned child who has been evicted from many group homes, learns this language, and upon her emancipation at age 18, eventually finds a job with a caring florist. A chance meeting at a flower market forces her to confront her past and learn to love and trust someone again. Diffenbaugh's extraordinary debut brings forth in elegant prose the emotions of anger and mistrust, love and loss, and the possibilities for a second chance at happiness.”
— Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

Summer 2012 Reading Group


“During the Victorian era, flowers conveyed expressions of love and were often used as a form of communication. Victoria Jones, an abandoned child who has been evicted from many group homes, learns this language, and upon her emancipation at age 18, eventually finds a job with a caring florist. A chance meeting at a flower market forces her to confront her past and learn to love and trust someone again. Diffenbaugh's extraordinary debut brings forth in elegant prose the emotions of anger and mistrust, love and loss, and the possibilities for a second chance at happiness.”
— Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

Description


A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

Praise for The Language of Flowers

"Instantly enchanting . . . [Diffenbaugh] is the best new writer of the year."Elle

“I would like to hand Vanessa Diffenbaugh a bouquet of bouvardia (enthusiasm), gladiolus (you pierce my heart) and lisianthus (appreciation).  In this original and brilliant first novel, Diffenbaugh has united her fascination with the language of flowers—a long-forgotten and mysterious way of communication—with her firsthand knowledge of the travails of the foster-care system. . . . This novel is both enchanting and cruel, full of beauty and anger. Diffenbaugh is a talented writer and a mesmerizing storyteller.  She includes a flower dictionary in case we want to use the language ourselves.  And there is one more sprig I should add to her bouquet: a single pink carnation (I will never forget you).”Washington Post

"A fascinating debut . . . Diffenbaugh clearly knows both the human heart and her plants, and she keeps us rooting for the damaged Victoria."O Magazine

"Diffenbaugh effortlessly spins this enchanting tale, making even her prickly protagonist impossible not to love."Entertainment Weekly

About the Author


To write The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh found inspiration in her own experience as a foster mother. After studying creative writing and education at Stanford University, Vanessa taught art and writing to youth in low-income communities. She and her husband, PK, have three children and live in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This is her first novel.

Praise For…


"Instantly enchanting . . . [Diffenbaugh] is the best new writer of the year."Elle

“I would like to hand Vanessa Diffenbaugh a bouquet of bouvardia (enthusiasm), gladiolus (you pierce my heart) and lisianthus (appreciation).  In this original and brilliant first novel, Diffenbaugh has united her fascination with the language of flowers—a long-forgotten and mysterious way of communication—with her firsthand knowledge of the travails of the foster-care system. . . . This novel is both enchanting and cruel, full of beauty and anger. Diffenbaugh is a talented writer and a mesmerizing storyteller.  She includes a flower dictionary in case we want to use the language ourselves.  And there is one more sprig I should add to her bouquet: a single pink carnation (I will never forget you).”Washington Post

"A fascinating debut . . . Diffenbaugh clearly knows both the human heart and her plants, and she keeps us rooting for the damaged Victoria."O Magazine

"Diffenbaugh effortlessly spins this enchanting tale, making even her prickly protagonist impossible not to love."Entertainment Weekly

“An unexpectedly beautiful book about an ugly subject: children who grow up without families, and what becomes of them in the absence of unconditional love...Jane Eyre for 2011.”The San Francisco Chronicle

"The first-time novelist and real-life foster mother masterfully mixes sweet and tart to create a story that is devastating, yes, and hopeful, but also surprisingly, satisfyingly real."Redbook

“A moving and beautifully written portrayal of the frailty – and the hardness – of the human spirit.”The Daily Telegraph (UK)

“Lucid and lovely”The Wall Street Journal

“In a world where talk is cheap, debut author Vanessa Diffenbaugh has written a captivating novel in which a single sprig of rosemary speaks louder than words. …The Language of Flowers deftly weaves the sweetness of newfound love with the heartache of past mistakes in a novel that will certainly change how you choose your next bouquet."The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"We couldn't put it down."Good Housekeeping

“Diffenbaugh creates a story of promise and redemption.”The Sacramento Bee

“A deftly powerful story of finding your way home, even after you’ve burned every bridge behind you. The Language of Flowers took my heart apart, chapter by chapter, then reassembled the broken pieces in better working condition—I loved this book.”—Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet 

“This hope-soaked, glorious book speaks to every once-broken, cracked, or poorly mended heart about the risks we take to heal, to be fully human, to truly connect. An astonishingly assured debut.”—Joshilyn Jackson, author of Gods in Alabama

“As a foster care survivor, I feel a kinship with Victoria Jones as she battles loss and risk and her own thorny demons to find redemption. Vanessa Diffenbaugh has given us a deeply human character to root for, and a heart-wrenching story with insight and compassion to spare.”—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife


Product Details
ISBN: 9780345525543
ISBN-10: 034552554X
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 23rd, 2011
Pages: 336
Language: English
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Created At: 3/7/2014 08:25am
Last Updated At: 11/6/2018 06:10am