The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Devil all the time by Donald Ray Pollock

Rules of Civility: a novel by Amor Towles

Victoria has been in the foster care system all her life. At 18, she has aged out of the system and is now homeless. In The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, we meet the very complex character of Victoria. She is one of best developed characters that I have read in a long time.

Victoria has always had troubling communicating her feelings and she has every right to be an angry little girl. At the age of 10, she lives with Elizabeth for one year (the longest stay in her life) and this is where she learns about flowers. She discovers that every flower has a definition and that they each have significant meanings. What happens in this one year, impacts her life and is a turning point that marks her future.

At the age of 18, being homeless does not stop her from creating gardens where ever she can. She eventually gets a job with a florist and this allows her to use her talent of matching flowers with the emotional needs of her customers. The job leads to many things, including her first home and a romance. And there is of course a mystery and many secrets…all this makes the novel very readable. I would not hesitate to recommend this to any reader.

Have you ever read a book and felt like you needed to take a shower? That your finger nails feel dirty? This is what happened to me while I was reading The devil all the time by Donald Ray Pollock.

Pollock has been compared to Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, and Cormac McCarthy…this tells you that this is not a light comedy. As a matter of a fact, it has been called an American gothic.

The story takes place from the end of WWII to the 1960’s. It tells many tales about numerous memorable characters. It is dark, disturbing and dirty and I could not put it down. It is a powerful book that is simply brilliant. It is full of fake preachers, real preachers, serial killers, and young people who you worry about the whole time. And yet, you cannot get this story out of your head, and in the middle of reading this, I emailed friends and told them to get their hands on this book.

I can only tell you that it if you don’t mind a tough story, you will appreciate this book. I do confess that after reading this novel, I had to read something completely different. I needed to get out of the darkness.

Which leads me to Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. Here are some of the things in this novel: jazz, martinis, cigarettes, filthy rich people and working class people, art and literature, and New York City. It is 1938 and the Depression is over and Americans are living the high life.

This is story takes place in one year and explores the friendships of Katey, Eve and Tinker. There is comedy and tragedy. This is a fabulous read. If you are a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald, as I am, then you will really love this novel. I cannot wait for Towles next book.

All three books are really, really good. They give you well developed characters and fantastic plots. I think you will be impressed with all the writers, all first time novelists.

For your listening pleasure: I got this cd for my birthday, and I cannot stop playing it…Birdy. This is the title and name of the artist. Enjoy!

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  • Aledys Ver  On March 19, 2012 at 11:19 am

    I bought The Language… but I haven’t read it yet. From what you have to say about the book, I think it’ll be the next I’ll pick up to read. You’ve also made me curious about this American gothic novel. Thanks for the boekentips, Jane!

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