3 + 1 Books about Flowers: 3 works of fiction + 1 work of nonfiction on a particular subject

Part of my new section featuring three fiction books and one nonfiction about one subject.

1. The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh

lang flowSelf-acceptance through nature

The Language of Flowers is a novel about a young woman who does not know how to navigate the world she is thrust into after aging out of foster care. Unloved and alone, Victoria relies on what she learned about flowers, their meaning, and how they influence people to become a successful florist and learn about herself and her apparent isolation from the world. A surprisingly deep and touching book with a flower dictionary at the end.


2. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson

secretgardenHealing through nature

The Secret Garden is a classic children’s book that introduces many children to the wonder of nature. Like Victoria in The Language of Flowers, Mary is a lonely girl who feels unloved and finds healing through plants and flowers. The transformation of the overgrown, abandoned garden into a placid, blooming oasis mirrors the transformation inside Mary and the rest of the household.

3. Perfume, Patrick Suskind

perfumeThe scent of beauty

In Perfume, Patrick Suskind describes the process by which perfumers extract scent from flowers to make essential oils and then perfumes. Originally in German, Suskind’s unique novel focuses on the sense of smell and how it guides the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, murderer and 18th century master perfumer. Possessing the gift of “absolute sense of smell” and quickly tiring of making perfume from conventional flowers, Grenouille seeks to create the ultimate perfume from the ultimate flower: a young female as she blossoms into womanhood.


+1. The Orchid Thief, Susan Orlean

orchid-thief-medFlower obsession

Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief reads like a fast-paced novel. Through what has been called a “classic of professional journalism,” Orlean tells the story of John Laroche, his quest for the rare ghost orchid, and his possibly criminal acts to obtain it. Orlean also delves into the world of orchid breeding and collecting, helping the reader understand why these flowers are an object of obsession for so many.

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