Thursday, March 7, 2013

If flowers could talk

The cover of my Kindle edition
There is a certain way of communication in symbolism. I've always been a big fan of it so maybe it isn't surprising those were the classes I was particularly good at during my studies. The meaning of words, names, rituals, symbolism in paintings, sculptures, even gardening were always fascinating. And I have to admit this book didn't make the cut for book club for the very poor description on its jacket. 
"The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable young woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past."
Prognosis: I yawn and fall asleep before I finish the description of the book. Indeed.
But then the love of symbolism got the better of me and I still read this bugger. I cannot possibly say it was the best book ever written but I can say that it was not by far what I expected it to be. I thought it'll be more like one of those novels where nothing ever really happens and there's no peak of the story. To keep those novels fresh and entertaining throughout the whole story is nothing short of a masterpiece. Ask John Irving (how it's done)! He is one of those rare ones who can make it happen no matter what. Vanessa Diffenbaugh is no John Irving (yet) but she is no E. L. James, either. For starters, she can write. And spell. And make sense. And write an enticing But this isn't about the horror that is being passed around in the form of bound papers that desecrate the wonderful term "a book". (Yes, I'm talking about the very few shades, there aren't fifty in a million years.) The story in itself  in The Language of Flowers is written very interestingly. The best part about Victoria who is promised to be very interesting is that I didn't like her one bit. And still I was interested in what will happen to her, what she has done and what the flower story really is about. That's a tough task to achieve. 
The story flows back and forth and alternates between the past and the present. The past is hooking in a way that you have no idea what it's bringing and the present is presenting itself just enough to keep you luring until the next chapter of the past which will lure you into the next chapter of the present and so on and on. I liked for example that very beautiful discovery of the yellow rose and its meaning. Because I was a little upset at the wrong meaning first (the meaning of yellow rose was one of the first meanings of flowers I've learned and have kept me completely baffled as to why would anyone gift this flower to another person as a sign of love) but after things became clearer, I decided to be less sceptical. Turns out Ms. Diffenbaugh did her research well and even included a flower dictionary in the end.
The book itself did not change my outlook on anything really. It did a very good portrayal of what an unsteady family environment and numerous foster homes can do to a person and how this can haunt them for the rest of their lives. How terrible it is for them to trust and even be trusted, how they are not used to sharing their life with anyone and would most of the time rather live like a stray cat who just gets fed through the kindness of strangers. (And not the Blanche Dubois kind of kindness either.) Which is a subject very, very close to the author's heart. It's a wonderful story of love, hate, forgiveness and coming of age through all of that. And despite always loving hydrangeas I will never look at them the same way. Here's a short snippet into Victoria's life as told by Vanessa herself.


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