Florence’s book club: The Language of Flowers

This afternooon it’s Florence’s book club, returning with Rachel’s review of The Language of Flowersby Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I have a copy at home waiting for me to have spare time to read it and I’ve got high hopes so I’m looking forward to hearing what any others of you might think who have read it.

The next book is introduced at the bottom so make a note of it!

I really wanted to read this book. I’d heard lots about it, read good reviews by people whose opinion I trust plus a book about flowers and language, perfect. Yet…Like Victoria, our heroine, I was a rollercoaster of emotions. Sometimes loving it, sometimes bored, sometimes wondering what on earth could happen next and why was she spoiling something good in her life? It often felt that Victoria’s life seems to be getting better, have shoots of promise, making friends, working as a florist and then bang! Something else comes along and throws her story into another direction.

“I had loved, more than once. I just hadn’t recognised the emotion for what it was until I had done everything within my power to destroy it.”

The Language of Flowersis set in present day America, somehow I’d miss read the name Victoria and the role of the language of flowers in Victorian times, to think this would be a story passing between today and the Victorian era. It moves between the present day and probably 10 years earlier. Victoria’s traumatic life, unwanted from birth, sent from foster home to foster home until she turns 18 and has to fend for herself. From the beginning we know that she has been loved once but something terrible happened, this part of the story is slowly unravelled for us. We also know that somewhere along her journey she has discovered flowers, and the language of flowers.

“Now, as an adult, my hopes for the future were simple: I wanted to be alone, and to be surrounded by flowers. It seemed, finally, that I might get exactly what I wanted.”

I absolutely loved reading it in spring time as my new garden was coming to life. To feel and smell the flowers, see the buds of new life popping out whilst reading about characters who live, breathe and love flowers. To learn about the different meaning of flowers, at the back of the book is ‘Victoria’s Dictionary of Flowers’. Victoria uses flowers to communicate. Her skill as a florist is partly in understanding her customers, their loves and lives, and choosing the flowers to express their hopes and dreams for when words have run dry, or when planning a wedding. There is a recurring theme about misinterpretation of definitions, how things aren’t always as they appear, meanings, and life, are not all as they seem. A rose is a rose is a rose…

“What does she mean, ‘A rose is a rose is a rose’?” I asked….
“That things just are what they are,” he said.
“’A rose is a rose.’”
“’Is a rose,’” he finished, smiling faintly.
I thought about all the roses in the garden below, their varying shades of colour and youth. “Except when it’s yellow,” I said. “Or red or pink, or unopened or dying.”

If you are planning a wedding, or recently have, flowers are important to you and are perhaps a worrier, now may not be the time to read this book. Some of our favourite wedding flowers appear to have uncomfortable meanings. This could also make planning your wedding flowers more fun, interesting or just add a different dimension. Or you could keep this in the world of fiction.

My final thoughts, when I was enjoying the story, had had a tough day at work, my brain and emotions ached from working too hard my first thoughts on commuting home were ‘oh good I can escape into The Language of Flowers – above twitter, blogs, and that says a lot about a book.

To try a development of Florence Finds Book Club and following on from conversations at Florence Finds London Afternoon Tea I wondered about whether to open up the discussion more. Please share your thoughts on this book but also any other novels about flowers or gardens that you’ve read and we can create a selection of recommended novels about flowers and gardens.

I don’t know about you but I like to read books about men and women, books set in the modern day to the distant past. I like reading a book that then prompts me to find out more about the subject by reading other books. This leads to our next Florence Finds Book Club. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. I don’t know very much about it but do know it’s about Ernest Hemmingway and his marriage, written from the perspective of his wife. I’m looking forward to finding out more about him, being tempted to perhaps read his autobiography A Moveable Feast and maybe being nudged into reading one of his novels. If reading this book doesn’t appeal then please think about fictional books you’ve enjoyed that are based on real people for when we meet again.

So, it’s time to hear from you! Have you read The Language of Flowers? Or can you make a similar recommendation? Maybe you love a certain flower for it’s meaning or chose/are choosing your wedding flowers for that reason? I’d love to hear…

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Florence’s Book Club: Little Women and The Language of Flowers

This afternoon, we’re welcoming Rachel back to review her last Book Club choice, Little Women, with the option to also read the follow on book, Good Wives. I read both on holiday a couple of weeks ago and felt an overwhelming sense of nostalgia, them being two of my favourite books as a teen.

The thing I love about the Book Club though is the way hearing what somebody else felt when they read a book changes your perspective on it, even when it’s a classic you are familiar with already. For that reason, I loved Rachel’s review and think her choice for next month’s Book Club is perfect for Florence Finds – particularly as my thoughts turn to the garden with spring in the air and the romance that brings. I’ll let you judge for yourselves but please do join in and share your thoughts on Little Women and/or Good Wives, and let us know if you’ll be reading The Language of Flowers too. Don’t forget, all the book club titles are listed in Florence’s Amazon shop.

Little Women and Good Wives by L M Alcott

NB This review contains spoilers if you are yet to finish it.

I could write about how Little Women made me think about female friendships and how we’re drawn to stories surrounding them. (SATC anyone?) The different characters that make up our friendship groups. How we work as a friendship unit but within it some of us are closer to one friend, how we each bring out the best in each other and sometimes the calmest person gives strength to the loudest.

I could write about how I loved reading it in the run up, during and post Christmas. How it made me reflect on how we’re coming back to giving homemade gifts. We now relish making handmade gifts for our loved ones. There are wonderful passages about what they choose to make and give each other.

I could write about how I think I’m mainly Meg but with a little bit of Beth and Amy tossed in for good measure. (Though I do like my nose and would never dream of wearing a peg on it. Each time I read or think about Amy’s nose it makes me smile.)

Little Women

I could write about how I identified with Meg having completely planned what to say if Mr Brooke asked for hand in marriage. And when it came to it, it all went out the window.

I could write how it was good to read Good Wives in the New Year for New Year’s resolutions.

I could write about how I felt chastened reading about Meg’s desire and temptation for frippery landed her in financial trouble as I travelled on the tube to go sales shopping on the Kings Road.

I could write to all who are thinking about having a family, are pregnant or have a family that they must read the chapter ‘On the shelf’ to ensure their adult relationships remain strong with the arrival of the pitter patter of tiny feet.

I was all set to write about the heartache. About Laurie’s heartache. Let’s just say I missed my tube stop at the point where Jo refuses Laurie’s hand in marriage. I know, I know, of course Jo and Laurie shouldn’t be together but part of me will always feel that Jo and Laurie belong together. My heart kept saying – ‘Oh Jo why couldn’t you love Laurie?’ By the end of the book I’m just about convinced that they have all made the right matches.

And then…. The final chapter. Jo our strong willed, independent heroine, who breaks boundaries, lives by her heart and not society’s conventions sets up her own school. A school for boys. My head and heart scream – “What about the girls’ education?” I realise that even that is a step too far for Jo and L M Alcott to consider and feel thankful that I live in Britain in the 21st century.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
I’m really excited about our next book. I’d been wanting to choose a more recent novel and it doesn’t get more recent than this one. It will be out in paperback on the 1st March. So read it first for Florence Finds.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is our next title for Florence Finds Book Club. I know very little about it apart from reading great reviews, hoping I’ll enjoy a good story and learn a little bit more about the language of flowers. What could be more perfect for a spring read? We’ll be reviewing this on 17th April.

Thanks Rachel!

Don’t forget, if you have a great read that you would like to suggest for Florence’s Book club (click for more info) then please just drop me a line on hello@florencefinds.com.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS you can read more from Rachel at her blog Flowers and Stripes, or find her on Twitter @MrsHunterDunn.

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