Before any readers dismiss this book as just a book about flowers or gardening, stop and reconsider. According to Nan Graves Goodman of Jackson’s Lemuria Books, this book is so much more. She says it’s one of her all-time favorite books and will be her number one book to sell for the holidays.
“Naturally, because I am a flower lover and spend most of my spare time in my garden when not reading the latest contemporary fiction, I was bound to love this book,” Goodman said. “But, I might not have liked it if the writing and the story had not been so good. Lisa (Newman) had read the advance copy and told me that I was going to like it. She was right!”
The book’s protagonist, Victoria Jones, is an orphan who has been in and out of foster homes. She learned all about the meaning of flowers from her once favorite but currently estranged foster mom. Even though she left that household at age 10, Victoria never forgot what she learned and continued to teach herself the meaning of flowers. At age 18 when she was fully emancipated from the girls’ group home, she becomes voluntarily homeless and lands a job as a flower arranger at a local florist.
“Eventually, she acquires a long list of customers who request her personally to design bridal bouquets and other arrangements containing the flowers which send the messages or secret codes for the beloved,” Goodman said. “As the novel progresses, love finds a way into Victoria’s life along with a demanding newborn. Being unequipped for the emotions and demanding physical requirements, she flees.”
Goodman says she stayed on pins and needles as the author worked out the challenges of each character involved in this convoluted, charismatic story.” One of the reasons I believe this novel is so very successful is that the author is a foster mom herself and has had experience with the problems that foster girls face, particularly the matter of trust,” she added.
And for you flower lovers, there’s a flower glossary in the back of the book listing specific flowers and their meanings.
Diffenbaugh lives in Cambridge, Mass., with her husband and three children. She studied creative writing and education at Stanford University and has taught art and writing to youth in low-income communities. She is the founder of the Camellia Network, which is working to create a nationwide movement to support youth transitioning from foster care. In “The Language of Flowers”, camellia means my destiny is in your hands.