I think it's time for a new book. What do you think? Besides being incredibly moved, you might learn something from this one. I know I did. You see in elementary school I learned Pig Latin and in high school I learned
Sarcasm and Spanish. In college I thought I'd like to learn Italian because I thought it was cool,and I was in love with the Renaissance, but I never did learn the Language of Flowers. Yeah, there was a touch of it in that one book The Age of Innocence, which I know you all are groaning about right now, but not enough to make you feel like you could pass a test on it afterwards. Trust me, after you read The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh you are going to be itching for a #2 and a bubble sheet. You are going to be the sensei of sunflower speak.
So be ready, because this month we are going to learn more about the language of flowers. And what exactly is the language of flowers? Well, according to Wikipedia, "The language of flowers, sometimes called floriography, was a Victorian-era means of communication in which various flowers and floral arrangements were used to send coded messages, allowing individuals to express feelings which otherwise could not be spoken. This language was most commonly communicated through Tussie-Mussies, an art which has a following today.
The nuances of the language are now mostly forgotten, but red roses still imply passionate, romantic love and pink roses a lesser affection; white roses suggest virtue and chastity and yellow roses still stand for friendship or devotion."
Coded messages? I wonder what the Victorian coded message would be for "I really want to get in your pants but I totally can't because I'm kind of engaged to your cousin?" Oh, that's right, we know that one from The Age of Innocence. Didn't Newland send Countess Elenska yellow roses? Ding, ding, ding.
Although I love flowers, it wasn't the title of the book that got me to read its pages. I heard the author on NPR one night and was mesmerized by the interview. It was the phrase "attachment disorder" that caught my attention first. I listened to Vanessa as she recalled mentoring a foster child that she loved yet felt she never truly connected with. She spoke of her experiences with many foster children who struggled to find their identity when they were born without one.
Finding yourself in this world is hard enough when you come from two parents, I can't imagine coming from none. This debut novel is a fictional work with a foundation in real experience. The disconnect that Diffenbaugh explores is the impetus for the language of flowers and crucial to the narrative and what got me interested in reading the novel in the first place.
If you are a sucker for dysfuction (and I am NOT talking the Jace-and-Clary kind of dysfunction) I highly recommend The Language of Flowers. The writing is excellent with strong characterization, steady pacing and depth, and the protagonist isn't a whiney-girl for a change. Every word counts in this novel so I recommend reading it S L O W L Y, especially the conclusion, which was too brief for me the first time I read it. I had to go back over and reread it to savor the ending. (The audio book is also excellent).
The NPR interview can be found at this link: http://www.npr.org/2011/08/27/139985995/speaking-of-foster-care-in-the-language-of-flowers
Amazon link is here and Goodreads link is here