My mom’s friend gave me The Language of Flowers—first as a loan, then as a gift—earlier this summer, and I became so engrossed in it that one day while reading it I actually missed my subway stop.
Victoria, the protagonist, is the kind of character who often makes you want to smack your forehead to your palm, but you’ll love her anyway. A foster child who’s never stayed with anyone longer than 2 years, Victoria has a habit of isolating herself from everyone except flowers. She learns the Victorian language of flowers from one of her foster mothers, Elizabeth, and embraces the secretive language as a means of communicating her emotions—because few still understand that a yellow rose does not mean the same thing as a white rose. As she meets new people equally as attached to flowers, though, Victoria begins to learn there are inconsistencies within her beloved language.
The characters are fresh and insightful, Victoria is heartbreaking and beautiful, and the plot never quite lets you grasp its path as Victoria wavers between her habit of isolation and her desire for company and comfort. The love stories—of romance, family, and friendship—of Victoria’s life are layered as intricately as the petals of the flowers Victoria clings to. This book provides a perspective that most will not be able to relate to easily, and yet the elements of Victoria’s relationships maintain a simultaneously wonderful and haunting sense of universality and familiarity.
The use of the flower language within the book is fascinating; I find myself walking by bouquets and gardens wondering what the petals would have whispered during the Victorian era. Thankfully, there is a flower dictionary in the back of the book! I’ve always had the opposite of a green thumb, but this book makes me want to change that.