Published: August 23, 2011
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Book Club
You might enjoy this book if you like: Emotional stories, novels that explore relationships, heroines who struggle
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.
So, this book was a first for me. It is the first book I've ever recommended--widely--before actually finishing it. And, if this book hadn't come to me through one of my book clubs, it would never have been on my radar.
From the first page, I was sucked in. Diffenbaugh starts the reader with the perfect scenario--a young woman moving out a group home--to hook the reader. I was immediately intrigued by Victoria and I wanted to know how she got to where she was going, what her plans were, why she was so bitter. And Diffenbaugh does answer these questions...in her own time.
The cast of characters in this book is relatively small--there are only 3 truly central characters--but everything is told from Victoria's point of view. Since Victoria is not a self-aware character, this could be a difficult situation for an author to navigate. Yet, Diffenbaugh is able to succeed here. While Victoria's own vision is limited, Diffenbaugh shows the readers what is really going on.
Something happens in this book which really should not work...the narrative hops between a period about a decade in the past and the present. It does so on an almost alternating chapter basis and, usually, this would give me reading whiplash. However, it works here. I would love to know how Diffenbaugh outlined this book, because these two pieces clicked together so well. I quickly found myself "in the groove" of hopping between the two phases of narrative and I felt that it made the storytelling even more effective.
As I said, I have been recommended this book before I even finished it...and I stand by that. I would recommend this to just about anyone, and would especially recommend it for anyone looking for something to discuss at their book clubs!
I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.