The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Inherently we all know the value of flowers in ourlives. No matter what gift you give someone, but you can never match the message that gets across when you give flowers. We give flowers to express love, sympathy, and apology and to celebrate and condole. We know that flowers convey our feelings better than our words or any other gesture. But I don’tthink we think too much about it and we don’t think a level deeper and think about which flowers express what feelings and moods.
This book tells you language of flowers through the story of a young girl who knows only one language, that of flowers and only communicates through it both with herself and with the world. The story of Victoria begins at her turning 18 when she steps out of group home and is on her own and has no one and no where to go. She then tells her story from this point onwards with a parallel track from the time when she was 9 and first experienced love of a foster mother who wanted to adopt her as much as she wanted to be adopted by her. So you know a bit about her present and a bit about her past as the book moves. Victoria is not a likeable character, she is most probably not someone you would identify with, but at the same time it is difficult to hate her even when she does enough that can make you hate her. She is someone who does exactly what she wants to do, is scared of being attached to anyone and has nothing that normal girls of her age has.
Her foster mother introduced her to the language of flowers while she worked with her on her vineyard. That is one thing she made apart of herself. She worked with a florist and soon became popular for helping people choose the right flowers for their weddings and other events in life. She creates her own dictionary of flower and their meanings, even learns photography to get that right. In the process falls in love with the nephew of her ‘could have been mother’, but runs away from him as she is afraid to be exposed of her dark secret from her past. Becomes a single mother and then gives up her daughter as she finds it too much to handle a kid, but realizes the value of relationships and forgiveness that they demand. Like Hindi movies in the end all is well.
The book is remarkably well written. The character of protagonist and few other characters etched out very well and you know what they can and cannot do. Most characters live on the periphery of society so it is not easy to create a story out of them. The emotional and physical journey of a girl who grew up in foster homes, almost found a home and lost it, found true love and let it go, got friends on the way but was never friendly with them, becomes a mother by accident, decides to keep the child but then finds it too much to handle, finally gathers the courage to admit what she had done and redeem herself. Gives herself a chance to love and be loved. And in all this, more communication happens through flowers than through words. It is beautiful.
It is difficult to guess that this is author’s debut book. She is someone definitely to look out for. I am sure anyone who reads this book will start a new relationship with flowers around, and would choose the next flowers more sensitively.
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