Periwinkle to inspire tender recollections, lilies of the valley to bring a return to happiness – with the hidden meaning of flowers to sooth a troubled soul, Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers is as full of enchantment as it is about foster care. Victoria, an orphan since she was abandoned as a baby, has been defiantly in and out of foster homes. At eighteen, she is “emancipated” from her last group home and sent out into the world – homeless, without an education or any prospects. Flowers are her only salvation.
Diffenbaugh alternates chapters from Victoria’s memories of her only loving temporary home with Elizabeth, who patiently taught her about flowers and nurtured a connection that becomes her safety line – to Victoria as she tries to forge a life as an itinerate worker with a local florist.
As she struggles to overcome her past as an unwanted child, shuffled through the social services system, Victoria’s sense of self is cautious, with low expectations that are repeatedly met by everyone in her life. She carries her scars into adulthood, mistrusting the possibility of friendship or love. Living one step above homelessness, Victoria manages to create a career with her knowledge of flowers; her talent for using flowers to solve problems brings her success and a new life.
Diffenbaugh includes an index of flowers with an interpretation of their application; if you enjoy books that use flowers or herbs for creative therapeutic solutions, add this one to your list.
Hot House Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire