The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Vanessa Diffenbaugh's debut novel is the story of an orphaned girl who struggles to learn to love as she moves from family to family, finally ending up with a woman who owns a Vineyard. The narrative unfolds dually, as we see Victoria as both a troubled youth and a still-troubled adult who has learned to communicate through the language of flowers.
Reviewer: Brigitte Weeks
"This novel is both enchanting and cruel, full of beauty and anger. Diffenbaugh is a talented writer and a mesmerizing storyteller."
Reviewer: Catherine Taylor
"The generic cover design is badly misleading, as Diffenbaugh is an engaging writer, sensitively using the double-edged definitions of flower names to amplify her theme."
Reviewer: Sam Sacks
"But if the novel is predictable, it is also lucid and lovely—Ms. Diffenbaugh has found a vibrant way to tell a familiar story of rift (Carolina jasmine) and reconciliation (hazel)."
Reviewer: Malena Watrous
"In the end, she offers a cautionary tale about what happens to kids who've grown without families, one that strives to be honest but still hopeful."
Reviewer: Elizabeth Johnston
"Ultimately, The Language of Flowers is a hopeful book tempered by reality. It leaves the reader with trilliums and saffron: modest beauty and a wariness of excess."
Reviewer: Rachel Syme
"As invigorating as this language is as a literary device, it does border on a gimmick — the overreaching and common curse of debut novels. It all seems to tie together too neatly...Where Diffenbaugh sees plot holes, she simply fills them with flowers."
Reviewer: Samantha Nelson
"It’s lovely material, but it seems that Diffenbaugh may understand more about what makes a flower attractive than a character....Without strong characters to anchor the story, the weaknesses of the contrived plot and narrative style become even more pronounced."
Reviewer: Janet Maslin
"Ms. Diffenbaugh has both studied and taught creative writing, and the didacticism shows. She has a weakness for pairing parallel events in her two time frames...In any case Ms. Diffenbaugh has a tough time tying together all the tendrils for the book’s finale."