Friday, October 14, 2011

Literary Friday: The Language of Flowers

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This week I read The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  This probably explains why I was looking at flower arrangements on the internet yesterday, and why I decided to post some spooky Halloween arrangements. You can read my spooky arrangement post here.

Before I begin my review of The Language of Flowers, I would like to briefly discuss Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  Vanessa was inspired to write this books based on her own experiences as a foster mother.  She studied education and creative writing at Stanford University, and then taught art and writing to low-income students.  The Language of Flowers is her first novel, and I think she is a very eloquent writer.

Vanessa has also started a national movement to support youth making the transition from foster care to independence.  Her organization is called the Camellia Network, and you can visit their website at www.camellianetwork.org.  In the language of flowers, camellia means my destiny is in your hands.  I applaud Vanessa for her action in helping these young people that our government sometimes lets down.  Private organizations almost always help kids in need much more effectively than the government, and I think that these organizations are so worthy of our money and time.  Thank-you, Vanessa, for your insight and care.


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If you haven't already guessed it by now, The Language of Flowers is about a young women who is leaving the foster care system and group homes behind as she transitions into emancipation on her eighteenth birthday.  Victoria's story is told to us in real time and flashback highlighting her struggle to survive after her emancipation in San Francisco.  At the age of ten, she is almost adopted by a loving woman named Elizabeth.  Elizabeth lives on a vineyard, and she teaches Victoria everything she knows about the language of flowers.  Everyone during the Victorian era was taught the meaning of flowers, and people were very careful in their selections of bouquets to convey the appropriate and precise message to the recipient of the flowers. As an adult, Victoria takes this knowledge and tries to build a life for herself by working at a San Francisco flower shop called Bloom.  She listens to her customers' wishes for each and every order: she asks what outcomes they would like to accomplish when presenting the gift of flowers. Victoria's work has profound, positive impacts on her customers' lives.  Apparently the ones receiving the bouquets are getting the message loud and clear: it is like magic, really.

As the plot is woven together with Victoria's past living with Elizabeth and her present, the reader is broken-hearted because Elizabeth does not adopt Victoria.  Plus, Victoria is so damaged by her childhood that she seems to sabotage everything good that happens to her. Please be warned that the beginning of this book is very depressing.  I almost put it down, but I am so glad that I did not.  The book is fantastic, and I think readers should be pleased with a more than satisfying ending.

Of course the different meanings of flowers are interspersed throughout the book, but Diffenbaugh also includes Victoria's Dictionary of Flowers in the back of the book.  I love this feature, and I thought it would be fun to take some random flower arrangements and interpret them according to Victoria's wisdom.


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Orange roses mean fascination, burgandy roses mean unconscious beauty, and pink roses mean grace.  This is not a bad combination!


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This bouquet is sending a very terrible message.  Hydrangeas mean dispassion, and white roses mean a heart unacquainted with love.  Ummm...a terrible arrangement.  Yikes!


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This is the arrangement I used to decorate the coffee table for the Royal Wedding.  Tulips, the flowers I chose for our wedding, means declaration of love.  Spot on!


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This arrangement was one I used for the Fresh Cut Friday linky party at Rose Vignettes.  The gladiolas mean you pierce my heart, the pink carnations mean I will never forget you, and the alstroemeria mean devotion.  A great combination, don't you think?


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Baby's breath means everlasting love, and daisies mean innocence.  This is a sweet combination!  My daughter's favorite flower is the daisy, and I always try to have them around the house when she is home or for special occasions.


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Hydrangeas are bad!  They mean dispassion, and the delphiniums mean levity.  So, a fickle dispassion is not a message you want to receive or give!  This is definitely something a player would give to one of his many conquests.  Not good.....


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This one is really funny.  My mother gave me this one for my birthday.  The chrysanthemums mean truth, the asters mean patience, and the camellias mean my destiny is in your hands.  Since I am an only child, I will be picking-out my mother's nursing home, so I guess that this is an appropriate message, LOL!  {Just kidding, Mom!  I loved that arrangement.}


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Who doesn't love lilacs?  I only wish they grew in the South.  Lilacs mean first emotion of love.  Nice!


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I am sure y'all are all wondering what the Occupy Wall Street protestors are sending, receiving, and carrying.  Why, it is the above arrangement, of course!  The cabbage represents profit (a dirty word to the protestors, for sure), the peony represents anger (they are definitely angry), and the hydrangea means (again) dispassion because the protestors are dispassionate about Capitalism.  So now you know what to send to the Occupy Wall Street protestors in your life!

I hope you will check out The Language of Flowers.  It was a wonderful read.


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Don't forget about our What We're Reading Party on October 20th hosted by Bonnie and me.






What We're Reading


Linking to:



Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill




21 comments:

  1. How lovely are those flowers! I beat your home smell divine.

    Vanessa

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  2. Because of my line of work, I don't think I could emotionally handle the story. But the flower messages I like.

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  3. this is a great book, I love learning the meaning of flowers,,thankyou for sharing this,

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  4. Hi Ricki Jill,
    What fun it is to play with flowers and their meaning..No matter that the hydrangers are known as the flower of dispassion, they are still a beautiful flower and so many wonderful ways to use them. I wonder if the meaning of flowers were done today if they would have a different meaning! I'm guessing yes..

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  5. HA HA! An awesome post! I think that I will make sure and add this little read to the book club. I think that they would really enjoy it. :)

    ~Liz

    P.S. Thanks for the shout out! :)

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  6. Oh all of the flowers are so pretty. We live in the south and I always look forward to the lilacs blooming!

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  7. Beautiful arrangements Ricki Jill! Hydrangeas mean dispassion and white roses mean a heart unacquainted with love...that's awful! I love them both!!!
    So funny about your being the only child...funny :)
    Have a great weekend!
    Cindy

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  8. Such an interesting post, it was a real eye opener to learn the language of flowers.
    Hydrangeas are a real favourite of mine, it can't be true that they mean dispassion, yikes!

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  9. I haven't read this one yet. I love your post though. All of the flower photos are lovely too. Hugs and sincere wishes for a beautiful weekend xo

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  10. This book sounds so interesting RJ. Your florals arrangements are lovely and so are the containers. How could one of my favorites, the hydrangea have such a negative meaning. Cute comment on your being an only child. So glad your feeling better. Hope you are having a nice quiet time at home watching the game with a cup of hot tea. Looks like we're going to have a great game! RTR......

    ~Emily
    The French Hutch

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  11. This book sounds very interesting! I didn't know that about white roses..they are my favorite..oh well!! A great mix of bouquets you have created! All flowers are beautiful!!

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  12. Hello Sweetie...
    I am so thrilled to be able to stop over once again. I have so missed my computer and I am so thrilled with my early Christmas gift from Marydon. I am trying to make my rounds and catch up with each of you.

    What a beautiful share today. I love the language of flowers. Yellow roses are my favorite and I send them to Momma each year on my birthday thanking her for life. She did that for her Mother when she was alive, so I have tried to carry on the tradition for Momma.

    What beautiful bouquets sweetie, you are so talented. Thank you for the share today. I can't wait to see what you share next. Many hugs and so much love, Sherry

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  13. This post is so interesting, Ricki! The book sound interesting, but your combination of the flowers and what they mean is fascinating!

    Thank you for linking this interesting post to Potpourri Friday. I appreciate your participation!

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  14. How neat Ricki. You sure do have some beautiful arrangements too. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. Lordy! I just love hydrangeas. I think I will go by what they mean to me...beauty!

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  16. That's very interesting about all the different types of flowers. I was reading at one time about the different types of roses, and it was fascinating to me. Your picture of the carnations was my favorite. My husband used to give me carnations when we were dating. They last a long time and smell so sweet. Loved your post today.
    ~Sheri at Red Rose Alley

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  17. That sounds like a very good book. The authors work is to be applauded. Hmmm, I wonder what it says about me that roses and hydrangeas are my favorite flowers.

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  18. Beautiful arrangements. Interesting post.

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  19. Love the white glass pumpkins in your masthead!
    So pretty and so unusual!

    The meaning behind each flower is so intriguing! I am really going to have to put some thought into my designs from here on out... yikes! :)

    Great post. Thanks for sharing!
    xx
    A

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  20. Your flowers are so beautiful. Love the sound of this book. One more for the book list. SIGH!!!
    xoxo
    Laura

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  21. Ricki what a beautiful post. I have an old book bought at the thrift store by the same title but it just has handwritten definitions listed next to all the flowers. I love it though but I don't think these are the same do you? I am on some serious sinus meds making me loopy can you tell by my rambling?

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