I just read Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s sweet debut novel, The Language of Flowers that was published in August 2011. The novel’s beauty grows out of the fascinating language of flowers. Intoxicatingly charming.
The story follows the life of Victoria Jones who was abandoned as a child and because she was moving from one foster home to another, she grew mistrustful of people. Her anger hindered her from forming ‘normal’ social ties with others. Her only way of communicating was through the language of flowers, as was the custom in the Victorian era: honeysuckle for devotion, azaleas for passion, and red roses for love.
The only adult Victoria ever trusted and loved was her foster mother Elizabeth, who taught her to appreciate flowers and showed her the significance of different flowers in conveying messages. There was no need to talk, no need for words. Flowers expressed her emotions, pain, happiness, perplexity. The colors and fragrance could determine which flower would best express her mood and sentiments. Through a slow and painful process, Victoria learns to know herself. She finds the courage to let others get close to her, but not before she has destroyed a valuable relationship. Her low self-esteem and fears about failure prevent her from fully enjoying intimate relationships with those who love and care for her.
An elegantly written, touching and dramatic story about a difficult journey towards self-knowledge and self-realization. Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s first novel leaves the reader waiting for the next one. The story blends the natural with the social world, wordless expression with emotional handicap. It will surely be one of the best new entries of the year. A thoroughly enjoyable, highly recommendable debut novel.
It has already been called the publishing event of 2011