SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points, if you have not read the book.
Title: The Language of Flowers
Author: Vanessa Diffenbough
Page Count: 322
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Tone: Engaging, emotional
Questions composed by MPPL Staff:
1. The story starts with a fire. What happens to Victoria? How does she react?
2. The Language of Flowers goes back and forth in time and each section is titled. What’s the first section called and how does it fit Victoria?
3. What do you think of Meredith, Victoria’s caseworker? Could she have done more for Victoria?
4. What flower does Victoria choose to give Meredith? Is Victoria’s assessment fair?
5. Meredith leaves Victoria with $20 and the advice to get a job. What does Victoria do instead? Why do you think she is so unconcerned with her future?
6. Why does Elizabeth begin trying to reconnect with her sister? Did you sympathize with Elizabeth’s focus on this?
7. How does Victoria test Elizabeth at the beginning? What happens after this initial testing period? What does Elizabeth tell Victoria about her behavior?
8. What characters come into Victoria’s life? Did you like them? Why or why not? What did you think of the “flower vendor” at first? Did your opinion change?
9. Victoria doesn’t recognize Grant at the flower market. What does he give her and how does she respond?
10. Victoria ends up in the library to find out the meaning of white poplar. What other discovery does she make and why is this problematic?
11. Is Victoria able to see nuances in life? Elaborate.
12. How does Grant court Victoria? Why does he persist with her? Are there any signs at all that she wants a relationship?
13. Grant learns to cook, lets Victoria sleep in his home and nurtures her interest in creating a flower book of her own. Is he an unrealistic character or do you think he’s a good guy and she got lucky?
14. Things are going well for Victoria at the flower shop. What talent does she discover that she has?
15. Do flowers really have the power to change outcomes for people? What do you think happened with Earl and Bethany?
16. What keeps Elizabeth from adopting Victoria? What did you think of her ennui? Why did Elizabeth say she couldn’t go through with the adoption? Was Elizabeth fit to be a mom?
17. How does Grant respond when Victoria tells him that they will never be like that old couple? What brings them back together? Why do you think Victoria keeps coming back to Grant when she so adamantly insists that she can’t love?
18. What sparks Victoria to make love with Grant? She initiated the encounter, but where is her mind during it? How does she respond to the news that she is pregnant?
19. What struck you as realistic and not realistic inVictoria’s pregnancy and delivery scenes? Were you surprised that Victoria avoided Mother Ruby as a source of help? As her labor became intense, who did Victoria want with her and why?
20. What flower does Victoria give Grant when she leaves? What does it mean?
21. Where did Victoria get the idea to set the fire and why did she do it? Why does she never speak up, even when Elizabeth is accused?
22. Did Victoria change when she became a mother? How do you know? Did motherhood change how Victoria views others? How comfortable were you with Victoria’s experience as a new mom?
23. How does the baby react after Victoria’s night in the woods?
24. What did you think of the end of The Language of Flowers?
25. Victoria said, “I wanted more than anything to be Elizabeth’s daughter.” She doesn’t mention being Grant’s wife. Was one relationship more pivotal than the other? Do you think this reflects the author’s views?
26. In your opinion, was this book realistic? Did parts of it seem more true to life than others?
27. Victoria’s life so easily could have had a different outcome. To your mind, who was the most instrumental in helping her have a fulfilling adulthood? Was it just one person?
28. Is this book an annual – something enjoyed for a season – or is it destined to be a perennial – something people come back to year after year?
29. Diffenbaugh said she wrote this book because she has strong feelings about the foster care system. What do you think her views are after reading this book? Do you think this book can make a difference in the foster care system? How?
30. In the end, Victoria answers the question Diffenbaugh posed – can someone who’s never been loved learn how to do so? Do you believe this is true or is it wishful thinking?
Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s website
Oprah’s book discussion questions
Daily Beast interview
Washington Post review
AV Club review
Wikipedia entry on floriography
If you liked The Language of Flowers, try…
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Being Lara by Lola Jaye
Wrecker by Summer Wood