This is NOT Southern literature, but I think it would appeal to members of this group ...
The Language of Flowers – Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Victoria Jones was abandoned as an infant. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday she is about to be emancipated from the foster care system she’s lived in all her life. She has limited schooling, no family, no job prospects. What she does have is an ancient Victorian Flower Dictionary, and the knowledge she gained during one important placement when she was nine. She leverages this limited but extraordinary skill into a job as an assistant at a flower shop, and begins – slowly and painfully – to blossom.
What a lovely debut novel! It wasn’t at all what I expected. Diffenbaugh has used her experiences as a foster mother to explore the emotional wounds and difficulties of a young woman truly left on her own for most of her life. Yes, she mentions some of the abusive horrors of the system, but mostly she focuses on the good that comes from understanding, patience and unconditional love, and how ONE loving placement can have a long-lasting impact on a child’s life. Victoria’s emotional growth is at times painful to read about, but there is much in her life (and in this book) to celebrate.
I found the use of the flower dictionary – harking back to Victorian times – to send messages of hope, love, belief, support, desire and forgiveness unique and interesting. I was afraid that the book would rely too heavily on this device and that I’d grow bored, but Diffenbaugh deftly weaves this information throughout the story, without overusing it. I thought the ending was a little too simply wrapped up, but I just looked at the remains of the purple hyacinth in my garden and all was forgiven. Fortunately I have plenty of hawthorn in my wooded yard to keep me company as I wait for Diffenbaugh’s next novel.
posted 12 months ago. ( permalink )