Friday, October 07, 2011

The Language of Flowers - a book review

I read quite a lot; just occasionally, I remember to blog about the books afterwards. SomeBeans is much better at blogging about the books he’s read. However, when I have been given a book to look at, I thought I ought to make the effort!

I’m sure a fair few garden bloggers have been approached about reviewing The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, with that of Esther Montgomery being one review that I have seen and enjoyed.

To be honest, if I had seen the book in the bookshop, I would probably have avoided it – a pretty cover featuring swirly writing and a fair amount of pink would have had me moving on to other books quite rapidly. Whilst the copy I have was given to me by the publisher,  have to say that I would have been happy to spend the money after just a few pages of the book.

The language of flowers (as oppose to The Language of Flowers – the book) is something that I learnt a little about quite some time ago. I think I must have heard about it from a great aunt, and something of the romance of it has stuck in my mind ever since. Flowers were used in Victorian times to express a wide range of messages and emotions., in a subtle way. I suppose this lives on with the rather predictable red rose of expensive Valentine’s Day today, declaring ‘love’. How much nicer and more thoughtful it might be to receive a more personal message within a bouquet – perhaps Stock and Cosmos.

So, to the book. I don’t want to give the story away, so perhaps a few hints using the language of flowers. The story is a bouquet of aquiliegia, buttercup, lavender, peony, white roses and cirsium. Yet around and through these are wound trails of  hawthorn, lilac, moss, and above all, daffodils.*

A book to read in long sittings, perhaps as the nights draw in. A book to enjoy. And a new language to learn.

*If you’d like to know what this bouquet means, you can find out here.


Esther Montgomery said...

Thanks for the mention.

Wonderfully oblique review!

The book seems to be doing well around the world despite its desperately inappropriate and unappealing cover. Since we would have avoided it if it weren't for reviewing it - but liked it . . . I'm wondering how many people have bought it because of its cover and have then been disappointed by its contents.

VP said...

Good review - enough detail but with a sense of mystery inviting us to explore for ourselves :)

elaine said...

How intriguing - must keep a look out.

Hanna at Orchid Care said...

I am an avid reader but my favorite genre is gardening and your review of The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh has inspired me to reach for it in the very near future.

Esther Montgomery has commented about the book’s inappropriate cover. On the one hand, I agree with her but on the other hand I can’t help remembering that one should never judge a book by its cover and this is the perfect example.

HappyMouffetard said...

Esther - you're welcome. The cover was offputting but as Hanna (below) says - a very good example of not judging a book by its cover.

VP - thanks for your comment.

Elaine - I would recommend it. Hopefully it will make its way into libraries.

Hanna - A very good point. Though it seems many publishers want us to do precisely that, with their pink girlie covers.

millefeuilles said...

I did buy the book despite its cover and I really enjoyed it despite (again) having to read it in French translation. I generally hate reading English books in translation but living in France I don't always have the choice.

I liked the mix of whimsical symbolism and fairly harsh reality. I would absolutely recommend it.

Anonymous said...

Sound very interesting. I'm growing my own cutflowers so it might be another aspect to look at.