If that is all I had to say about this book, then that would be it. Alas, I am a person who could speak underwater, and that translates to the way I communicate to my dear friends on the internet as well.
It’s hard to adequately summarise what this book is about, so I’ll let you peruse the summary from Amazon:
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.
The synopsis makes it sound a bit vague. I read a beautiful review, I think in Good Reading magazine (best magazine EVER) and thought that I should give it a read. When I read the blurb, I was mildly underwhelmed and was hoping I wouldn’t be getting an even wishier washier Maeve Binchy. The “language of flowers” sounded old fashioned and a little overly ‘romantic’ for my liking.
Well, I was wrong and am eating my words (along with my nightly Cadburys) – this book was absolutely amazing. I read it in about four days, and those were work days too, I didn’t even fuck about on the internet after work like I usually do, I just ate dinner and went to bed to read.
Victoria, the main character equally enrages you and elicits sympathy. Sometimes I wanted to throttle her, and then I was reminded by the author of why Victoria is the way she is. She was an unwanted baby and was shunted from foster home to foster home as a child. Eventually, she is placed with Elizabeth, but is so badly damaged with the fear that no-one wants her that it is difficult, and even impossible, for her to reconcile any feelings of love. Elizabeth teaches her of the language of flowers and how in earlier times, feelings were communicated by exchanging flowers, and “flower dictionaries” existed, to decipher messages via flower choice.
The story moves between Victoria’s placement with Elizabeth, at around age twelve, and her “emaciation” once she turns 18, which sees her homeless, and sleeping in a park in San Francisco. In order to understand Victoria as an adult, you must understand her relationship with Elizabeth. The flowers add the most fascinating edge to the story, and Victoria’s whole life becomes consumed by the messages flowers send to people. As someone for whom life has dealt a tough blow, her love for flowers and her utter talent for them add a raw and compelling edge to the story. When she encounters a stranger in the flower market (the descriptions of which are amazing), they begin to send each other messages through delivering flowers. Hers send messages of “beware” and his send messages of “intrigue”.
I have seen reviews of the book refer to the fact that the author takes an ugly subject, being foster care, and turns into a wonderfully confronting yet mesmerizing story. This is a fairly accurate assessment.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a story that sucks them in. It was just fantastic. It isn’t chick lit, but I am not sure of whether any men that I know would love it. It really is a wonderful story and I recommend it to everyone! 5/5 biscuits!
Whippersnapper has written 37 posts.