Victoria is a foster child, eighteen and newly emancipated from the system. With nowhere to go she sleeps outside in a field near the city of San Francisco. Although she is supposed to find a job, Victoria instead spends her time planting flowers and plants and transferring them to this field. The flowers seem to speak to her, and she knows what each one is trying to convey.
Diffenbaugh shifts between the present time and Victoria's past as a young child in the foster care system. As a ten year old Victoria goes to live with Elizabeth, a woman who runs a vineyard. There she is loved and cared for and also learns a great deal about plants. I wished so much for Elizabeth to adopt Victoria, yet knew it was not to be, as the book opens with Victoria's emancipation. Yet, I couldn't imagine a better or more loving environment for Victoria to grow up in.
As an adult Victoria finds relationships difficult and has a way of keeping people at an arm's length. Watching her navigate her relationships is at times heartbreaking, especially as Diffenbaugh slowly reveals what Victoria's earlier life was like.
I will admit to knowing very little about flowers. However, I was amazed by the way Diffenbaugh wrote about the different language that flowers have and the meanings and feelings behind the different plants. Handily, at book's end there is a small glossary of flowers along with the feelings they evoke.
The Language of Flowers is Diffenbaugh's first book. This would be a great selection for book clubs and women's fiction lovers - plenty to discuss and enjoy.