The Language of Flowers

Praise and Reviews

April 12, 2011

“We couldn’t put it down.” —Good Housekeeping

“Best new writer of the year … Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s instantly entrancing THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS is a modern-day fairy tale … Start by falling in love with this rare, wise, winsome book.”—ELLE

“[A] touching debut novel.”—USA Today

“Diffenbaugh effortlessly spins this enchanting tale, making even her prickly protagonist impossible not to love.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Fascinating … Diffenbaugh, herself a foster mother, clearly knows both the human heart and her plants, and she keeps us rooting for the damaged Victoria, who comes, finally, to understand that ‘the unattached, the unwanted, the unloved [can] grow to give love as lushly as anyone else.’”
—O, The Oprah Magazine

“The first-time novelist—and real-life foster mother—masterfully mixes sweet and tart to create a story that is devastating, yes, and hopeful, but also surprisingly, satisfyingly real.”
—Redbook

“We’d choose lisianthus (meaning appreciation) to convey our sentiments for this beautiful story.”
—Better Homes and Gardens

“Captivating … THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS deftly weaves the sweetness of newfound love with the heartache of past mistakes into a novel that will certainly change how you choose your next bouquet.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“This is the story of an orphan rising above her circumstances—Jane Eyre for 2011.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

“Lucid and lovely … Diffenbaugh has found a vibrant way to tell a familiar story of rift (Carolina jasmine) and reconciliation (hazel).”
—Wall Street Journal

“Immensely engaging … Diffenbaugh’s most compelling love stories are those between women—mothers and daughters, sisters, friends. As Victoria’s two stories hurtle toward their conclusions, Diffenbaugh ably paces both the plot developments and an emotional arc of almost unbearable poignance.”
—Boston Globe

“Catnip for book clubs … The language of flowers, as illuminated through Victoria’s words and a special appendix, turns out to be an addictive preoccupation: once you know that peonies represent anger; basil, hate; and red carnations, heartbreak; every bouquet takes on a new significance.”
—NPR

“Powerful and evocative … THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS uses green, growing things so say something fresh and special about human life.”
—Chicago Tribune

“An absorbing story that is as complicated and exhilarating as any human relationship … THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS is full of startling and masterful dialogue, intense, emotional scenes that crackle and come alive as they unspool, and flawed yet sympathetic characters.”
—BookPage

“Vanessa Diffenbaugh delivers a first-class, literary forget-me-not.”
King Features

“Enchanting, ennobling, and powerfully engaging, Diffenbaugh’s artfully accomplished debut novel lends poignant testimony to the multitude of mysteries held in the human heart.”
—Booklist (starred review)

“Fans of Janet Fitch’s White Oleander will enjoy this solid and well-written debut, which is also certain to be a hit with book clubs.”
—Library Journal (starred review)

“Diffenbaugh’s affecting debut chronicles the first harrowing steps into adulthood taken by a deeply wounded soul who finds her only solace in an all-but-forgotten language…Struggling against all and ultimately reborn, Victoria Jones is hard to love, but very easy to root for.”
—Publishers Weekly

“As a foster care survivor, I feel a kinship with Victoria Jones as she battles loss and risk and her own thorny demons to find redemption. Vanessa Diffenbaugh has given us a deeply human character to root for, and a heart-wrenching story with insight and compassion to spare.”
—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

“THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS is a primer for the language of love. Vanessa Diffenbaugh deftly gathers themes of maternal love, forgiveness and redemption in an unforgettable literary bouquet.  Book clubs will swoon!”
—Adriana Trigiani, author of Very Valentine and Don’t Sing at the Table

“Is it really possible that this is Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s first novel? I can hardly believe a debut writer can bring this much insight and polish to a story. What an achievement!”
—Kelly Corrigan, author of The Middle Place

“Devastating, hopeful, and beautifully written, THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS is a testament to the tender mercies and miraculous healing power of love.”
—Beth Hoffman, author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

“A deftly powerful story of finding your way home, even after you’ve burned every bridge behind you, THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS took my heart apart, chapter by chapter, then reassembled the broken pieces in better working condition. I loved this book.”
—Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

“This hope-soaked, glorious book speaks to every once-broken, cracked, or poorly mended heart about the risks we take to heal, to be fully human, to truly connect. An astonishingly assured debut.”
—Joshilyn Jackson, author of Gods in Alabama

“THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS gives us new definitions of human compassion in all its forms. Bouquets of laurel and trumpet vine await this beautifully arranged story!”
—Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

“This heartbreaking debut novel about mothers and daughters, love, and the secret significance of flowers had me weeping with emotion and wonder. Victoria Jones is an unforgettable heroine and you will never look at flowers the same way again.”
—Tatiana de Rosnay, author of Sarah’s Key



Bookseller Praise

April 11, 2011

“Best book I’ve read in years! I LOVED The Language of Flowers. I was sad when I finished it because I knew I’d never have the opportunity to read it the first time again.”
—Kathleen Caldwell, A Great Good Place for Books (Oakland, CA)

“What I love in a book more than anything is surprise and something unlike anything I have ever read before and I got that with The Language of Flowers. I loved that I learned about the language of flowers, something I was only slightly familiar with but is rich and fascinating. I loved that the characters weren’t perfect and that motherhood wasn’t perfect and that love wasn’t perfect but it was everlasting and enduring. I found The Language of Flowers to be a gem of a book, it surprised me and captivated me and made me cry…. perfect.”
—Sue Boucher, Lake Forest Book Store (Lake Forest, IL)

The Language of Flowers is unlike anything I’ve read — and I love it for that fact. You know those people who say there are only so many original story lines and everything since then is just a re-telling? They should read this book. It felt wholly original to me. And I loved the flower definitions … not only was the story riveting and compelling, but I feel like I’ve learned something new about something I didn’t really know existed! I made notes about certain flowers and am thinking of the appropriate people to send them. This book will be huge for us!
—Elizabeth Lewis, Rainy Day Books (Fairway, KS)

“What an amazing debut novel! I found myself wanting to knock some sense into Victoria’s head, but at the same time, wanting to give her a big hug; she was so real to me. This book shines a powerful light on the emancipation of 18-year-olds from the foster care system.”
—Becky Eblen, Joseph-Beth (Lexington, KY)

“This haunting story introduces you to Victoria Jones at ages ten and eighteen, building tension as the story of her younger self closes in on the event that explains why she is who and where she is as a young adult. Victoria, who grew up in the foster care system, learns the Victorian language of flowers from her foster mother Elizabeth, and by the time she’s an adult it’s the central way she processes emotions and relates to other people. Eventually she gets work in a florist’s shop, and applies her knowledge to treat customers’ troubles with flowers. Watching her bloom through these successes is a magical part of the book, as is the budding relationship with a mysterious man from her past. Victoria travels a long, hard road, and I felt privileged to take the journey with her, and to see her arrive in a place just right. I predict a renewal of interest in the Victorian language of flowers as people are captivated by Victoria and her story.”
—Kate Reynolds, Colgate Bookstore (Hamilton, NY)

“Vanessa Diffenbaugh has written an extraordinary debut novel with The Language of Flowers where she brings forth in elegant prose the emotions of anger and mistrust, love and loss…. I read this book without stopping and found myself fascinated and entranced by the language of flowers. Diffenbaugh has done a exemplary job showing us how flowers can communicate emotions and feelings in a way that we as human beings have a difficult time putting into words.  This is a a book that will resonate with you for a long time and find you searching for that just right flower when you need send a message to someone you care about.”
—Annie Phibrick, Bank Square Books (Mystic, CT)

“I haven’t read anything this good by a first time novelist since The Help. I can’t even do justice to it by writing about it. If I had 5 stars to give it, I would reinvent the system, and give it 10 stars. Writing, characters, plot…it’s all there. Do yourself a favor…enjoy this book. It’s amazing.”
—Nancy Salmon, Kepler’s Books (Menlo Park, CA)



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