Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

I'm not typically drawn to sad books, and this one was achingly sad for much of its length.  Victoria Jones was abandoned when she was three weeks old and spent the first nine years of her life in foster homes where she learned not to trust, to love or to hope.  Then she has a last chance at a happy childhood with Elizabeth, a vintner and a damaged soul herself.  The story tracks her short months learning the language of flowers and the possibility of being loved in chapters that alternate with Victoria's life as a 18 year old who is able to use her knowledge of the symbolism of flowers to build a specific clientele for a florist shop.  In both time frames, the foreshadowing of the sadness to come builds unbearable tension.  There's beauty in the language, and unvarnished truth in the story; Victoria, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth's nephew Grant are characters you come to care about; there's even a wry tone that can elicit a smile here and there.  But sad.  Very, very sad. Tara Sands did a great job reading. 

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