The Language of Flowers

(2011)
The Language of Flowers (2011)

Victoria is a young woman whose only way of connecting with others is through a language no one knows. When Victoria was 10, Elizabeth, one of her foster mothers, shared with her the near-forgotten language of flowers: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, red roses for love… thistles for hate and distrust of human beings.

Victoria has just aged out of the foster care system. Broken and bruised, among her memories of the many foster and group homes she’s lived in there is only one of a happy home; yet, the memory of her home with Elizabeth also brings with it the very deepest wounds, ones of betrayal and regret. Now Victoria is living in a city park, scrounging daily for food, when she sees a woman, Renata, struggling to carry loads of flowers into her floral shop. When Renata is presented with Victoria’s talent for flower arrangement she takes her on. Victoria listens to the stories of the customers who come into the shop and communicates back to them in the language of flowers – a language that speaks powerfully into their lives as she explains the arrangements she has created for them.  And then one day she encounters someone who seems to know her language without aid of translation; and he is trying to speak to her. Like Elizabeth, he brings to Victoria’s life great gifts and great pain. Now Victoria has to learn whether someone as broken as she has anything but pain and brokenness to offer and receive from the world.

I love fiction and the power of story, but I nearly always read only non-fiction because it’s difficult to find stories that engage me or even make me want to finish them at all. I read this book in three sittings; it’s a powerful story of mothers and daughters, brokenness and redemption. A debut novel for the author, I look forward to future titles!

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