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Monday, October 15, 2012

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

I recently read The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. This is the publisher's web site for the book. Here's the Amazon page on the book, which includes an interview with the author. This was her first novel. It is well written, and shows extensive thought and research.

As usual, I try not to give away much of the plot. Trust me, there is one, although the book is more about relationships than plot surprises. It's really more about relationships, especially about relationships between foster children and those who interact with them, than about flowers.

The concept of Language of Flowers, or floriography, refers to the use of flowers as signals, whether they are displayed or given as gifts. The Wikipedia has an article on the subject. The author has appended a long appendix at the end of the book on such usage. Samples: Wheat (Triticum) - Prosperity; Strawberry (Fragaria) - Perfection; Violet (Viola) - Modest Worth; Raspberry (Rubus) - Remorse. It would be possible to suppose that flowers really have some sort of magical powers, but, in an appendix, Diffenbaugh specifically denies that flowers have magical powers. She does say that researchers have found some effects, however: "A study from Rutgers University shows that flowers increase feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction, and Harvard researchers found that people feel less anxious and more compassionate in the presence of flowers." There are a lot of wedding flowers sold in the book.

The author, in her first novel, uses flashbacks extensively. It works.

Although there is a lot about reconciliation in the book, the characters seem to have no religious, or church experiences. In one place, the protagonist, Victoria Jones, says ". . . I didn't know how to pray."

The book was well worth reading. I expect Diffenbaugh will do more good work.


Cash Advance Company said...

I've read a lot of good reviews for TLOF so it's on my list. I'm glad you recommend it.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Cash Advance Company.