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Posts Tagged ‘the language of flowers’

Jane’s Bookshelf: A Garden of Books for Spring

Friday, March 30th, 2012

JVMWhat does a publisher at the world’s biggest publishing house read for pleasure? (And how does she find the time?) Jane von Mehren is the Senior Vice President and Publisher of Trade Paperbacks at the Random House Publishing Group. Every now and then, she’ll be featuring her favorite reads in her Reader’s Circle column, Jane’s Bookshelf—books that she thinks you’ll love, whether you read them solo or with your club! And if you’re on Twitter, you can follower her tweets at @JaneatRandom.

Language of Flowers PBMy garden is starting to come to life with some daffodils—“new beginnings”—and purple hyacinths—“please forgive me”—though I’m still waiting for the tulips—“declaration of love”. I learned about the meanings of different flowers from Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s magnificent first novel, THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS. The novel’s heroine, Victoria Jones, is a fiercely independent and guarded young woman who is most comfortable communicating through flowers. From the moment Victoria leaves the foster group home where she grew up and enters the world as an adult, she relies on flowers to help her make her way—first when she works at a florist then to communicate with the man she eventually falls in love with. This beautiful story will have you rooting for this lovely, fragile young woman, needing to talk about the twists and turns in her story, as well as looking at every bouquet with a new eye as you try and decode its message.

Clara and MrTiffanyClara Driscoll, who spent decades working for Louis Comfort Tiffany, also knew a lot about flowers, for she was the designer of many of Tiffany’s most famous lamps—including the Wisteria, Lotus, and Laburnum lamps. Susan Vreeland’s novel CLARA AND MR. TIFFANY tells her story, introducing us to this gifted artist who, like so many women even now, must choose between her profession and her heart. Vreeland gives her readers a fascinating look at how both Clara and Tiffany created these gorgeous works of stained glass as well as the complicated friendship the two shared set against the changing social climate at the turn of the 20th century New York City.

Friendship has also been the core of many of my favorite novels: Khaled Hosseini’s THE KITE RUNNER, Kathryn Stockett’s THE HELP, Jane Austen’s SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, and Maeve Binchy’s CIRCLE OF FRIENDS. When I asked readers to name some of their favorites on Twitter they reminded me of others: Patrick Dennis’s AUNTIE MAME, John Knowles’s A SEPARATE PEACE, and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A LITTLE PRINCESS. On LibraryThing, Ann Brashares’s THE SISTERHOOD OFSisterhood Everlasting THE TRAVELING PANTS was mentioned as the third most tagged book about friendship. I hate to confess that I haven’t read the early books in Brashares’s series, but I absolutely adored SISTERHOOD EVERLASTING, the most recent installment and the first to have been published as an adult novel. The foursome—Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget—are about to turn 30 and are finding it harder to stay connected to their best pals as men, careers, and families take up more and more of their time—so they decide to take a trip together to cement their bonds of friendship and sisterhood. I can’t, of course tell you what happens, but let’s just say that Brashares’s novel is so emotionally satisfying and heartwarming that you’ll find yourself calling your BFFs just to say I miss you or sending them a bouquet of saxifrage—“affection”—and freesia—“lasting friendship.”

I’d love to hear about your favorite reads about friendship in the comments below or on Twitter at @JaneatRandom.

Win a copy of Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers!

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

LanguageFlowersComing to paperback April 3rd!

A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

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