Book Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

In three words:

Orphan, rejection, love


What I thought:

Do you ever read a book and then look at other reviews afterwards and wonder if you read the same book? This is that book. Every single review out there (that I can find) has raved and gushed and wept over The Language of Flowers it seems – except me. Firstly, I must make it clear that this is not a bad book at all and I actually did enjoy reading it, but I am left feeling somewhat confused as to what I may have missed that others didn’t as it didn’t have the same impact on me at all.

The Language of Flowers centres on Victoria, who after 18 years in the system being passed from one foster home and care home to the next is finally let out in to the world on her 18th birthday. Other reviewers have written glowing reports of the character of Victoria who is a troubled young thing and has been misunderstood all her life while I barely managed to connect with her at all. She was distrustful and melancholy which, baring in mind what she has been through are pretty normal reactions I would have thought, but I never managed that empathy that I think I was expected to have for her. The book alternated between Victoria’s current life – living in a park and then being hired to do casual work at a florsits – and her life when she was 10 years old and was almost adopted by Elizabeth until something catastrophic happened that put her back in the system (which we don’t find out about until the end).

A couple of points didn’t ring quite true with me: firstly, seemingly every single foster home that Victoria was ever placed with bullied or neglected her. Now I don’t know much about the foster system, but surely there must be some good people out there? People who care about their charges? Afterall, why foster if you only have intentions of starving or punishing a child? The second thing was when the adoption with Elizabeth was about to go through which I can’t really say any more about for fear of spoiling it for others, but if anyone has read it I would love to hear your thoughts on what happened that day as it left me a little bewildered.

My problem with this book is not that I didn’t like it because I did, but the confusion I feel reading other reviews  is heighening my wonder at what I missed that others didn’t. For me it was a good book, but not a great book.


(source: I received my copy of this book from Amazon Vine)



21 thoughts on “Book Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

  1. The rash of great reviews might have something to do with colossal advance given for this book and the subsequent pressure for it to sell.


  2. I got a copy of this book through Amazon Vine too but haven’t read it yet. It’ll be interesting to see whether I’ll be able to rave and gush over it like those other reviewers!


  3. I love how this book looks, and some reviews say it has a lovely feel to it inside, this plus the blurb and reviews makes me want to read this…I’ve got it on my wishlist, and was going to buy it…maybe I’ll see if the library has instead..;-)


  4. I’m relieved to see a less than glowing report on this one, because I turned down a copy and I was wondering if I’d made a mistake. It sound as if the story doesn’t quite ring true.


  5. I think it’s only natural that there should be a mixture of reactions to books. I often have that (especially with Catcher in the Rye and The Alchemist where everyone seemed to love them except me!) but that makes reading reviews more interesting.


  6. Your review is the first I’ve read of this book, though I knew that there is a lot of anticipation and buzz about it. I do have it on hold at the library and will try it for myself, but I appreciate your honest assessment!


  7. I felt exactly the same way about the book. I enjoyed it but wasn’t moved by it and didn’t find it believable. It’s a good example of a book that is “a good read” but not “literature.”


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