The daily NYT is uncharacteristically late to the party in reviewing Ballantine’s big debut novel, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh,(8/23; Audio, Random House Audio and Books on Tape and OverDrive; Large Print, Thorndike).
Janet Maslin’s review drips with sarcasm about the book’s potential for book clubs, which sounds curiously familiar:
The Language of Flowers, review by Janet Maslin, 9/8/11 — “Ballantine is surely well aware that there are book clubs that have theme parties based on a literary work’s ambience. In this case the festive possibilities are mind boggling.”
The Help, review by Janet Maslin, 2/18/09 — “Book groups armed with hankies will talk and talk about [the maids] quiet bravery and the outrageous insults dished out by their vain, racist employers.”
Despite her many reservations about The Help, Maslin rightly predicted that Kathryn Stockett’s “button-pushing book” would be “wildly popular.”
Maslin doesn’t make predictions for the popularity of The Language of Flowers, but it’s already showing signs of success. It moves up the Indie Hardcover Fiction Bestseller list today to #6, from #11 last week (we also hear it debuts at #13 on the 9/18 NYT list).
The Help arrived on the Indie list at #15 the week of its publication; it took six weeks for it to reach #5. It was a much slower journey on the NYT list, taking 24 weeks before it climbed to #5.
Ballantine is publishing a companion to Diffenbaugh’s novel, a dictionary of flowers, which many libraries have not ordered.