Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

November Book Discussion: The Language of Flowers December 3, 2013

Thanks to everyone who participated in our virtual book club this month! The selection for November was The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, which I introduced here.

 

I’m going to throw out some discussion topics, and you can post your comments—about these topics or other things you want to talk about.

 Language of Flowers1

Discussion #1: Storytelling Method

One of my favorite parts of this book was the way the author wove together the two stories—the present-day narrative and the story of Victoria’s childhood. The connections between the past and the present were masterfully pieced together, and I enjoyed the slow reveal of what severed Victoria’s relationship with Elizabeth.

 

What did you think of the layered story? Did you like the author’s style, or would you have preferred one cohesive story?

 

Discussion #2: The Theme of Forgiveness

One idea that kept surfacing in this novel was the pain of unforgiveness and the redemptive power of forgiveness. We see this played out in almost every relationship: Elizabeth was able to forgive Victoria for burning down the vineyard, despite the years of hurt and distance between them. Elizabeth finally forgave Catherine for taking the man she loved, although that came too late to restore their relationship. Grant was able to forgive Victoria for leaving him and deserting their baby. Even Baby Hazel, with her innocence and trust, seems to offer forgiveness to Victoria, and she serves as a springboard for the healing of other relationships in Victoria’s life.

 

Have you ever extended forgiveness to someone who caused you great pain? Did you think the portrayal of forgiveness in the novel is realistic?

 

Discussion #3: Foster Parenting

Having known several families who have fostered children, I was intrigued by the exploration of what it takes to stitch together a family out of love but no shared genes. When I did some research about the author, I discovered that she is a foster parent herself and has founded a network to support youth transitioning from foster care.

 

Do you know any foster parents? How does this novel ring true with your experiences? Do you think Victoria will be able to overcome her past and become a good mom?

 

Discussion #4: Communicating via Flowers

It was fascinating to me the way Victoria was able to communicate her emotions through flowers when words failed her. She didn’t always have the skills to relate to people through the spoken or written word, but flowers gave her a way to express what she was feeling and thinking. I also enjoyed watching her share that gift with others at the flower shop. Some of the symbolism felt over the top to me (her name is Victoria?!), and sometimes the connections with the flower meanings felt a little heavy handed, but overall I enjoyed it.

 

Did this book make you want to find out more about the language of flowers (or wish you could visit Victoria’s shop)? Have you ever found ways to communicate with others that didn’t involve words?

 

Rating:

I would give this book 4.5 stars. Despite the occasional over-the-top symbolism, it was an enjoyable read, and I really liked the characters and the way the story unfolded (bloomed?).

4.5 stars

 

What rating would you give this book?

 

{Remember: I will give away a free book to one lucky commenter!}

 

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10 Responses to “November Book Discussion: The Language of Flowers”

  1. Marilyn Kitchell Says:

    didn’t read the book, but the book sounds wonderful …. sharing thru flowers (I love flowers), repentance, forgiveness, and foster parents (the ones I know love their children while they are with them and sometimes mourn their leaving b/c of their love.)

    ________________________________

  2. Linda Sladkey Says:

    Loved the book. Read it several months ago so my memory for the details is a little fuzzy. The communication via flowers spoke to me of an introvert who wants a voice but is unable to freely speak. Add that to the pain she endured in her past and you can see how she was insulating herself from further hurt. I was a little creeped out by the blue room with the plush carpet though. It had to be a mess after childbirth.

    • I agree, Linda–the raw emotions felt so real. You could see what was happening inside Victoria’s heart even when she couldn’t see it herself. And yes, I agree about the blue room!

  3. maggierowe Says:

    I read The Language of Flowers a year or two ago and absolutely loved it. I’ve recommended it to my daughter, sister, and friends. As a former foster mom, the emotions rang true to me. While our former foster son is incommunicado and continues to struggle, we are very thankful that our foster daughter has overcome many of the challenges of the childhood home and like Victoria has become a successful entrepreneur.

  4. nate Says:

    So I read this book. I finally caught up with the rest of the group 😉

    This book was not written for my demographic. Flowers and love and mothers and daughters, and every character in the book is a woman except for one guy who isn’t a very normal sort of fellow. I’ll be honest, I felt a little insecure reading the chick lit book on the train.

    All that said, I actually liked this book. A lot more than I expected. I was suprised, and I couldn’t even tell you exactly why. Heck, if I were to give this a star rating, I’d give it a three or a three and a half (which by my strict standards is at least a four out of five for the normal person).

    I guess my big complaint (and that’s probably too strong of a word) would be the estrogen-dominated cast of characters. But I liked all of them, even what’s-his-name, the love interest who is like every other love interest in a young adult/romance novel written by a woman and completely unlike any man that’s ever walked on the face of the earth.

    Sure, I make fun of that, but I liked him. And Elizabeth, I really liked her too. And Renata. And Renata’s sister, the punk girl who barely appears but performs her role perfectly.

    I thought she did a great job of weaving the actions occurring in real time with the flashbacks to past events. the pacing was perfect, and revealed the details exactly as they needed to be–that is, soon enough that it was appropriate but with enough patience that you wanted to read more.

    I thought Elizabeth’s struggle with and coming to terms with forgiveness was well done. I suck at forgiving people. it’s easy to say and tell someone, but harder to actually get to feeling that way. I love how Elizabeth never accepts “no” for an answer and keeps working at it.

    I know several foster families, and they’re all wonderful people who have made wonderful, positive impacts in the lives of children who need it, but none of them are remotely close to the example in this story.

    The flower communication thing reminded me of the Sadness of Lemon Cake book we read many months back, and the awful move that I love “Simply Irresistible.” Same idea, but with flowers instead of food. Mostly, it was just another part of the book to me, didn’t really stand out. It started out feeling very magical, but that whole theme seemed to be abandoned as the book went on and became very mundane. I wish it had been more fairy tale/magical through the whole book.

    I guess what it all really boiled down to was that I liked this book. I don’t know why, and that’s okay. I wouldn’t recommend it to many of my friends, except maybe my Jane Austin-loving roommate (but he doesn’t believe in reading anything he hasn’t already read–I agree, it doesn’t make any sense). That’s not because of the book, but because most of my friends couldn’t see past the stereotypes.

    • Nate, something that I think is super cool about you is how you’re willing to read such a wide variety of books. And I always appreciate your insights. I agree…one of the best parts about the book was how the characters seemed real and likable…something not many authors can pull off. Now about male characters: I think you need to write a book with authentic male characters, okay? 🙂 And whoa…3 stars from Nate is no small beans.

  5. nate Says:

    Although I would appreciate a less overtly chick-lit book next time 😉

  6. […] Congratulations to Linda for winning the free book for November’s book discussion! (You can check out our conversation about foster parenting and flowers and guys carrying around chick lit here.) […]


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