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The Flower Whisperer didn't speak loudly to me!
on July 18, 2011
I had mixed emotions about reviewing "The Language of Flowers" While I thoughts parts of the book were achingly beautiful, there were other parts that did not add up to a 5 star review.
The story of Victoria Jones is told through alternating chapters. One chapter depicts the abandoned, and emotionally scarred 10 year old Victoria, finally finding a home, after years of neglect in the California foster care system. She is taken in by a no nonsense but loving single women, Elizabeth, who owns a vineyard and teaches her the language of the flowers. While Elizabeth and Victoria appear to complete each other, we come to understand that some disaster has driven them apart, and sent Victoria back to foster care. For me it was the character of Elizabeth who broke my heart. Multifaceted with her own childhood damages, she was by far the more interesting of the two central female characters.
The second chapter depicts Victoria on her 18th birthday, when she has been emancipated out of foster care, and is left homeless to live in a park tending to a garden she has planted. The years in-between have made her even more emotionally unavailable. Victoria is a plant-whisperer, and comes to realize she has an almost magical ability to match what is missing from a person's life with the correct flower. Luckily she is given a chance by a neighboring florist to be her assistant. It is at the flower-market that she meets a male vendor, who also appears to understand the actual language of the flowers.
"The Language of Flowers" was a cross between a Sarah Addison Allen/Alice Hoffman novel and Anne of Green Gables. While the prose was beautiful and the storyline unique the central character of Victoria did not touch me the way she did most other reviewers. Victoria appeared to have an angel on her shoulder. Although sometimes she is her worst enemy, she always lands on her feet. At 18 years of age, she finds the perfect boss, the perfect job and a perfect man. Of course her emotional baggage, feelings of self worthlessness and the vicissitudes of life do not make it quite that easy, but this is certainly not "Oliver Twist". I also felt the middle of the book tended to drag and the ending felt rushed. Take away the fascinating language of flowers, the indomitable Elizabeth and for me you are left with chick-literature. This in itself is not a criticism, as I have given 5 stars to chick-literature which I felt more involved with.