The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
So I haven’t done my typical monthlyish Book Club posts lately. A few reasons, one is just that I’ve been really busy, but another is because A Little Life was such a big book writing the post kind of intimidated me, so I’m still working on it. But we’ve already read a few other books, and I wanted to make sure to get the posts up about them as well, so you’ll be seeing a lot of book posts coming your way soon. Perfect for summer reading!
The woman in my book club who picked this book works for a flower company herself, UrbanStems, and we did book club at her home, where she had flowers for all of us to take home with us after Book Club. So fitting!
I had no idea what to expect with this book but I absolutely loved it. I just thought the story was so beautiful. I’m not going to give anything away but I loved all the story lines. Flowers, art, love, business, famil — so many things going on.
In her Author’s Note in the back of the book she said:
The dictionary included here was created in the manner in which Victoria compiled the contents of her boxes. Lining up the dictionaries on my dining room table—The Flower Vase by Miss S. C. Edgarton, Language of Flowers by Kate Freenaway, The Language and Sentiment of Flowers by James D McCabe, and Flora’s Lexicon by Catharine H. Waterman—I scanned the meanings, selecting the definition that best fit the science of each flowers, just as Victoria would have done. Other times, when I could find no scientific reason for a definition, I chose the meaning that occurred most often, or, occasionally, simply the one I liked best.
My goal was to create a usable, relevant dictionary for modern readers. I deleted plans from the Victorian dictionaries that are no longer common, and added flowers that were rarely used in the 1800s but are more popular today. I kept most food-related plants, as Victoria would have, and deleted most nonflowering trees and shrubs because, as Victoria says, there is nothing wistful about the passing of sticks or long strips of bark.
I will personally be using this book as my own reference for giving flowers!
To give you a few examples of what is in Victoria’s Dictionary of Flowers:
Aloe (Aloe vera) … Grief
Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) … Worth beyond beauty
Baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata) … Everlasting love
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus) … Protection
Maybe that’s why baby’s breath is in wedding bouquets? I wish she had included the scientific reason, or whatever the reason was that she chose that meaning in her dictionary. There are all sorts of meanings, stuff you wouldn’t even think of.
If you’ve read The Language of Flowers please tell me what you think in the comments! Also, I’d love to know what some of your favorite books are! Any you think would be good for a book club discussion?
Editor’s note: When I write about books, I’m simply writing my opinion but with immense respect for the authors. Writing any sort of book is hard! I respect all authors and books even if I didn’t like them or didn’t understand them just on the simple fact that they were written by someone. Someone passionate enough to actually write and finish writing a book, whether I think it’s good or bad, I still respect the work it takes to write a book. Personally I think it would be so hard to write a book, especially fiction! So everything I say, I say constructively and as an opinion, and with respect.
I dubbed this book club the Serious Book Club because we seriously read the books and seriously discuss them, not because we only read serious books!