Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Romance Novel: The Language of Flowers, Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Flowers that talk

In a comment on a recent post Robena asked me if I had read The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

My answer was no. Then.

The name was intriguing so I went to amazon to check it out. Here is the first paragraph:

"For eight years I dreamed of fire. Trees ignited as I passed them; oceans burned. The sugary smoke settled in my hair as I slept, the scent like a cloud left on my pillow as I rose. Even so, the moment my mattress started to burn, I bolted awake. The sharp, chemical smell was nothing like the hazy syrup of my dreams; the two were as different as Carolina and Indian jasmine, separation and attachment. They could not be confused."

How could I ever resist a book with a first paragraph like that? I love books with good first paragraphs. ( I was struck dumb with amazement at Zora Neale Hurston's book Their Eyes Were Watching God on the strength of first paragraphs alone. It seemed like every chapter had an amazing first paragraph.)

There was one little hitch, though. The Language of Flowers wasn't a romance novel. In fact, I couldn't really find it's genre. What if it ended tragically like another book I read recently and immediately wanted to spit in the author's morning coffee?

Nonetheless it called to me and when I found it at the library I couldn't resist. So Robena, I have read it.

And it is fabulous.

Did you know that if two people were to learn the language of flowers they could converse using flowers alone, no words? The dictionary is extensive.

I had seen the word misanthropy before but I didn't know it meant hatred or mistrust of humankind. I feel like that sometimes, it's rare, but I do. If I were having one of those days, and you and I were conversant in flowers, I could give you some common thistle and you would know exactly what I was feeling.


There is a flower farm, be still my heart, and a vineyard, big sigh, in the book. I learned another new word (for me, anyway) viticulture; the science or practice of growing grapevines, especially for winemaking.

If you are like me and you love flowers, this book lets you wallow in them. I was constantly looking up flowers.

For instance, I have always thought of poppies as red. Here is a pic of the Matilija Poppy:

Not red. Very beautiful, though.

The story is so compelling and wrenching and heartwarming. I couldn't put the book down.

Just so you know - a romance develops and while it doesn't have a dead set HEA it has a very definite HFN (happily for now) that I believe leads to an HEA.

And, ladies, at one point Victoria, the protagonist, is asked to make a bouquet for a wife whose sexlife has gone downhill - jonquils!

AKA Easter Lillies or around here - March fleurs.

According to The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, I have blooms that stimulate desire in my yard right this very moment. Who knew?


  1. That does sound fascinating. I only have crocuses blooming in my yard right now -- I wonder what they mean. Might have to go do some research.

    1. Linda - I returned the book to the library or I'd look up crocuses for you.

  2. Judy, I LOVED your post on this book. I wanted to do one at my blog but had just come off back to back posts on writing mystery. Needed to lighten the content for a couple of weeks, so went with food. Ha ha.
    Every time I see flowers on my walk I try to remember what they all mean. And I have magnificent red bougainvillea outside my office window. Passion. I need more passion. : )

    1. Passion - I could use some of that, too.

  3. Judy, I had to come back to tell you, I'd posted a short blurb about the book on FB and the moderator of the Chick Lit blog emailed me and asked if I'd write a book review. It will run next Monday. Strange how the universe delivers, isn't it? : )

    1. That's great. Send me a link when it's up!

  4. Finally I can comment again!!
    Wow, yet another book that sounds fabulous and I absolutely love the idea of a flower language.

    1. It's a really good book, Kris. You'll like it.
      BTW I stumbled onto Hart of Dixie tonight. You're right, it was good. Unfortunately I don't do well with tv cause I'll never remember when it's on next.

  5. Flower language, eh? Which varieties say, "I need maintenance free because I'm terribly inept with plants"? ;)

    The photos are beautiful. Do they call jonquils Easter Lilies where you are? Some people call them daffodils here (close relative, but no floral cigar), but I've never heard them called Easter Lilies.

  6. That's one of the things they call them around here. They call them daffodils, also.
    From this point forward I'll never call them anything except jonquils.
    I was quite surprised when I pulled up the bing image for jonquils and that's what it was.

  7. I don't know what any flower looks like. When I read flower descriptions in books I just picture rhododendrons. ;-)