Archive | 12:24 PM

Book Club Reflection: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

12 Aug

After two delays and someone else deciding to join us for our discussion, we were able to have a quick book discussion on Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers during lunch one day. Yay! We were very focused on her language because it fascinated us so much, so you’ll see that focus here.

We loved how the author described the foster system in America. Having read the author description, we understand that she knows a lot about it from personal experience and liked that she delivered a message about it without hitting us over the head with too much information.

A mother figure was obviously something Victoria lacked growing up. While it could have been Elizabeth, Victoria felt betrayed by Elizabeth and not ultimately aided by her. Renata was the type of mother figure that Victoria needed at eighteen. She was proud to be self-supportive and to have found a way to be useful and didn’t want anyone to shelter her. Renata made Victoria prove herself and the her best self before earning assistance. Renata provided her with food, shelter, and money when she needed it, but only as much as she needed exactly when it was necessary. She never coddled her which Victoria appreciated.

In some ways, Victoria seemed sheltered. She knew very little outside the foster care system and the things Elizabeth had taught her. Grant was sheltered in a similar way. He knew flowers; how to raise them, sell them, and use them. But he didn’t know a lot about how to interact with people or how to keep a house or deal with his emotional past. We felt that this bonded the characters together.

Victoria was a ‘scrappy’ character. I’ll use this world and not really have a good definition of it, so I asked Google, who says,

determined, argumentative, or pugnacious.

That seems perfect. She was out for herself in a rough way; resourceful seems a good word. She was easy to root for. I was afraid I wouldn’t like her at first, but her drive was wonderful and made the book for us.

Catherine seemed to suffer from some sort of mental illness, which was pretty apparent in her behavior. One of my fellow readers suspects that Elizabeth might have suffered as well. Her crippling fear that kept her in bed might have been a sign of something larger that was keeping her back.

The scene where Elizabeth wouldn’t get out of bed was such a turning point in the book and for each of the characters. Elizabeth had built up the day by buying a new dress and having Victoria count down the days to it, but then couldn’t follow through. It was no small matter for her to give up on that day. Our group was mad that Grant gave the baby to Elizabeth because we were afraid she would give up and crawl into bed again. Victoria was a girl when Elizabeth did that, but a baby couldn’t survive it.

We debated if this book had a ‘happy ending.’ I thought it did and that upset me because I wanted something, even if it was something small, to not work out for her. I felt (and the others agreed) that the ending was too clean. It was all bad knocks for Victoria and everything turned out okay, which is great, but we’re not sure if it’s entirely realistic. Could you really believe that everything was 100% alright? We couldn’t.

We talked about the yellow roses. Victoria’s dictionary defines them as ‘infidelity.’ The woman who sat with us during lunch said that she’d given yellow roses to a friend for a wedding recently. Hopefully that friend hadn’t read this book.

We asked what flower Victoria would give herself. We thought one with a message of ‘healing’ would be appropriate, but couldn’t find one in the dictionary with that message.

We talked about the flowers we’d give ourselves. S chose a purple coneflower, meaning ‘strength and health.’ With a smile, V chose strawberries; ‘perfection.’

The two of them chose for me. I would either get a bouvardia for ‘enthusiasm’ or a crocus for ‘youthful gladness.’

Our next book is Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn which I finished last week and absolutely loved. I look forward to the discussion!

Until next time, write on.

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