The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

I started reading this book and within the first four pages I knew I would be driven to distraction trying to finish it as quickly as possible. This is the sort of book that eclipses anything else you may be doing or should be doing. Do not be fooled into thinking you will be able to put it down, you won’t. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is the sort of book that will have a lasting impact on anyone who reads it. This is definitely on my top ten list for 2011.

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The Language of Flowers is Victoria Jones’ story. Orphaned as a small child she has spent the majority of her life being shuffled between institutions and foster homes. This upbringing has born in Victoria many fears, the main being a mistrust of anyone and anything. Unable to get close to anyone she communicates in the language of flowers. Honeysuckle for devotion, azaleas for passion and red roses for love. Using this strange and ancient language she conveys her feelings to those around her never knowing if she is understood or not.

Now eighteen years old Victoria has been kicked out of the system and is finally facing the world on her own. Alone, afraid and with nowhere to go, Victoria takes up residence in a public park. She plants a small garden of her own within the park and begins to attempt to make her way in the world. Looking for work she comes across a local florist and asks for any work the florist may have for her. So begins the next chapter in Victoria’s life.

She thrives on the thrill of matching customers with the perfect flower to match their needs and it is this new beginning that will bring her to meet the person that could change everything. A mysterious flower vendor working at the market place, a man who will make her face the demons of her past and finally get her to ask herself the questions she has run from for so long.

The story switches from stories of Victoria’s past to the present. Back and forth as the mystery of her life unravels and the two parts of the story become one. Take the journey with Victoria, and sit alongside her as she discovers insights about herself and her life she had never considered.

Richly woven, dark, menacing and oftentimes heartbreaking this is a novel of redemption, love, loss and the beautiful language of flowers. A truly beautiful literary novel, this is a book to get lost in. I did not want this book to end and I cannot recommend it enough.  Make sure you add this to your “to be read” pile.

– Courtney for TLC Books


Author Interview with Becky Wicks

 

This week I had the opportunity to interview a debut author I absolutely love, her autobiography, Burqalicious; The Dubai Diaries, is a new favourite!

Becky Wicks is a writer who I hope people will be reading for a long time to come. Becky has that rare ability to tell a story that has you in stitches at nearly every turn of the page, while also being insightful and educational. I enjoyed Burqalicious immensely, my only complaint was that I wanted to know more, I wanted to hear what happened to Becky after Dubai, I wanted to know more about Becky’s life and the crazy characters she found as friends.

We have found a lot of people who read Burqalicious also had questions about Becky after Dubai; her relationships, her life, her writing and more. I hope this interview answers some of those and more. If you haven’t already read Becky’s book, then what are you waiting for? Go out and get it immediately you wont be disappointed, but first read this interview and find out what we are all buzzing about. 

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First off, tell us a little bit about yourself?  

I’m a Brit who has somehow reached the age of 31 existing on coffee and white wine, and the odd pie. I’m a huge pie fan. When I moved to Sydney the first place I ate in was Pie Face. You probably didn’t need to know that. I live in Bondi now because the men are hot and I love looking at the sea. I don’t go in it because of the sharks. I write all day in a cute little café called Katipo, if anyone wants to come and say hi. They’re probably gonna start charging me for electricity soon.

Burqalicious: The Dubai Diaries was your first book, how did you find the creative process? 

I found it really therapeutic writing it all down actually. They were pretty intense times, in Dubai, so when it came to editing my blogs and notes into a manuscript I had a good laugh and a cry too, remembering it all. I couldn’t stop until I’d gotten it all out, which is a good thing, because the result is a book I’d have been way too lazy to write otherwise.

So we know you spent two years in Dubai from 2007 to 2009, but can you let us in on something that you didn’t put in the book? 

Hmmmm, that’s tough because I tried to be as open as I possibly could when I was writing it all down. I had to cut a good few diary entries out though; else the book would have been a million words long! Stacey had a kickboxing instructor from Iraq who was obsessed with her. That was all pretty amusing. One night we ended up in a nightclub full of hookers because of him. I’ve put some deleted entries like that one on my blog if anyone wants to read them. www.beckywicks.wordpress.com

Did you get any distinctly negative feedback or backlash from Burqalicious?  

Not really… not that I’ve seen or heard about yet anyway! (Don’t make me cry!) I think some people might think it’s more appealing to girls because of the name, and I guess, because I’m a girl… OK well yeah, it’s mainly for girls, but it’s really just about Dubai being a mad place to live, and as an expat I guess there are experiences all kinds of people will have in common. I tried not to be negative and as a result, I would hope people don’t see the book as a negative thing.

Of all the crazy characters you met in Dubai who was the most bizarre and why?  

I would have to say the Iranian inventor, with his fleet horse and creepy artwork. If you Google the fleet horse you can find his promotional videos on YouTube. It really is awesome! I still can’t believe we lived on his landing and slept in beds he built himself. Not a day goes by when I’m not grateful for my Bondi bedroom.

I know everyone who has read Burqalicious will want to know; do you ever see or hear from MM after your time in Dubai?  

Yeah, we’re still in touch. He’s a great guy and we just went through some tough times. It’s funny, when you go through things like bust ups and break ups, you write about them in the heat of the moment. But when you read those words back months or years later, that emotion and drama has passed and you’re like, “What was I talking about??!”. It was hard not to edit my feelings on paper when it came to working on the book, but I felt that if I did that it wouldn’t have been an honest account of how things were at the time. As it is, we’re still in touch and hopefully always will be. 

If you were offered to live and work another two years in Dubai, would you want to go back? 

I’d be lying if I said I don’t think about Dubai a lot, maybe because of the book dredging it all up again! But no, I think that time has passed. There are definitely still some amazing opportunities over there though. I would encourage anyone to go and give it a shot!

What are the things you miss the most about your time in Dubai 

Well, apart from silly, shallow stuff like brunches and boozing in the lap of luxury, I miss the fact that every day was an adventure. You literally never knew what was going to happen next. Even a trip to the bank to open an account was an epic, life-changing experience. Seriously – even the little things over there were inspiring. I felt writing about it all was easy, way easier than I find writing about, say, Sydney.

And the things you miss the least?  

I don’t miss that horrid heat. Or the traffic. I lost count of the number of times I almost suffocated, or narrowly avoided being splattered by a Lamborghini.

 Are you working on anything new?  

Yes I am, but it’s fiction so it’s a thousand times harder! I find writing about real life pretty easy as you have the sights, smells, sounds and emotions all at hand to put into words, but when it’s up to you to create a whole other realm of existence, wow, that’s tough. I’m persevering though and enjoying the challenge. No one has seen it yet though. In fact, I don’t think anyone knows I’m doing it. Don’t tell anyone. It might be shit. 

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I hope everyone who reads this interview finds it as funny and insightful as I did and for anyone who hasn’t read Burqalicious, I hope it gives you a taste for the sort of hilarity you’re in for! If like me, you still want more, then head over to Becky’s Blogspot for all the fantastic stories and  extra diary entries that didn’t make it into the book, along with photos of Dubai and all its weird and wonderful characters. 

We have also included the link to our review of Burqalicious The Dubai Diaries for your pleasure, happy reading!

Burqalicious – The Dubai Diaries is available in all good book shops in Australia and NZ.

Becky’s blog: www.beckywicks.wordpress.com

TLC Books book review: http://www.fb.com/note.php?note_id=10150105859943863

Courtney Nicholas for TLC Books