The Language of Flowers

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

What happens?

A young woman named Victoria who has spent her life in foster care begins working at a florist shop and tries to build a life for herself. She’s had only one positive foster care placement. It was with a woman named Elizabeth, a vineyard owner who taught her all about flowers during their fifteen months together. 

What did I like? 

The book alternates between Victoria’s childhood and adulthood. As the plot of her adult life unfolds we gain a greater understanding of why she behaves as she does because we are also learning about her childhood. I loved the way Victoria could discern people’s personalities and needs and design flower arrangements that suited them.  The descriptions of food are mouth-watering. Victoria’s friend Grant and her foster-mother Elizabeth are both great cooks. 

What did I learn?

I learned about the language of flowers. Victoria doesn’t always find it easy to talk to people so she communicates with the language of flowers. The language of flowers, sometimes called floriography, was used as a means of communication during the Victorian era.  Flowers, which each had a special meaning were used to send coded messages.  Sending someone a pink carnation for example, meant I will never forget you, a lily of the valley meant your happiness will return and a petunia your presence soothes me. 

What personal connections did I have?

I taught many children who were in foster care during my teaching career. Some hid food to save for later just like Victoria did. Some were very angry just like Victoria was.  Some couldn’t handle being in school which Elizabeth recognizes; and so she homeschooled Victoria.  

When I taught high school I came to realize that kids who had something they were passionate about had the best chance to be successful.  I thought that perhaps our most important role as teachers was to help our students discover that passion if they hadn’t already done so. In this novel Victoria’s passion for flowers is truly her salvation. 

Favorite Line 

Anyone can grow into something beautiful

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Filed under Books, Childhood, Family, Nature

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