Before we had current social networking sites like Facebook, ladies in the Victorian era had
Before we had current social networking sites like Facebook, ladies in the Victorian era had "the language of flowers".

Book review: The Language of Flowers


Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Publisher: Picador (Pan MacMillan Aust)

RRP: $32.99


LONG before Facebook, Twitter and SMS messaging, gals in the Victorian era amused themselves with the language of flowers and would give each other posies or garlands filled with coded messages.

"Rhododendron" = beware

"Jonquil" = desire

"Moss" = maternal love

"Yellow Rose" = infidelity

"Purple Hyacinth" = please forgive me

"Tansy" = I declare war against you

"Camellia" = my destiny is in your hands

"Baby's breath" = everlasting love

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is filled with floral messages as it tells the story of Victoria Jones, a deeply flawed, dark and self-obsessed character who becomes a famous florist in San Francisco.

She is supported by a cast of likeable but dysfunctional individuals who can speak her flower language and who help turn her life around through their kindness, care and concern.

The story travels back and forth from Victoria's troubled childhood as a ward of the state to her independent adult life.

She leaves her institutional background behind on her 18th birthday and squanders every opportunity preferring to live in a park, unwashed and stealing food to survive.

Fortune is on her side when she meets successful florist Renata who takes her in and discovers her rare talent for floral design.

Customers line up for hours waiting for one of Victoria's enchanted bouquets to salve their woes and fix their relationships.

For example her bouquet of white lilac, red roses and rosemary (first emotions of love, true love and commitment) helps save a marriage.

We love to hate Victoria because her own self-loathing makes her a difficult and irrational human being.

People seem to accept her in this story which is sometimes hard to believe.

Thank goodness she finally makes peace with her past and blossoms into a pleasant young woman.

The Language of Flowers is great springtime reading for the ladies and will surely have you searching your own gardens for magical posies.

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