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Review: The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Branard

Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date: 6/3/2014
Pages: 320

Book Summary

A moving and eloquent novel about love, grief, renewal—and the powerful language of flowers.

Ruby Jewell knows flowers. In her twenty years as a florist she has stood behind the counter at the Flower Shoppe with her faithful dog, Clementine, resting at her feet. A customer can walk in, and with just a glance or a few words, Ruby can throw together the perfect arrangement for any occasion. 

Whether intended to rekindle a romance, mark a celebration, offer sympathy, or heal a broken heart, her expressive floral designs mark the moments and milestones in the lives of her neighbors. It’s as though she knows just what they want to say, just what they need.
 
Yet Ruby’s own heart’s desires have gone ignored since the death of her beloved sister. It will take an invitation from a man who’s flown to the moon, the arrival of a unique little boy, and concern from a charming veterinarian to reawaken her wounded spirit. Any life can be derailed, but the healing power of community can put it right again.

Review

When I first started reading this book, I will admit I had my doubts. In the back of my mind, all I could think about was how interesting could a book surrounded by a floral shop owner be? I was so wrong. Just like the beautiful flowers she talked about in the book, Lynne Branard’s novel just came into full bloom. To me, there wasn't this immediate magnetic attraction that glued me to the pages, it was something much more subtle but better. It was the perfect pace that evolved layer by layer offering the reader the type of story that felt like how the warmth of chicken soup makes you feel really good.

The premise of the novel surrounds the flower shop owner, Ruby Jewell. While pursuing a degree in law, tragedy struck with the news of the death of her sister Daisy. Leaving her withdrawn and depleted of life, out of the blue one day it was the sight of a small plant that brought her to life and “saved her”. Not being able to explain this epiphany moment, it was from there she found her true calling which was in the love and beauty of bringing to life “the arrangement of flowers.”

The book was more than just dealing with the arrangements of flowers. There is something special about Ruby and what she does with them. Not only because of the beautiful imagery that she creates for the reader but how each arrangement represents & means so much to each person she creates for. This creates for the reader tender, touching moments that warm your heart. Since her job deals with people wanting her services during those intimate moments, just like a beauty shop, we get a glimpse into what would be said if those four walls could talk.

Ruby Jewell is the type of person that represents a nostalgia that is missing today. You know the days when you went to a neighborhood store where you didn't even have to ask for a thing? The owner just knew your every need, including your likes and dislikes, your family and special occasions. She was one of the central figures in the community that everyone loved and went to when they needed her services. As much attention to detail she gave to make everyone else’s happiness, like so many she was the type of person that neglected herself. Her pain and loss, so internalized but through a couple of people that enter her life, we see her lead down a path of becoming whole and acceptance of the things you cannot change.

In her shop there is Nora and Will. Nora doesn't just work for her but is also her friend. She has gone through some things and has her own issues but definitely is the balance that keeps Ruby going. I really enjoyed the relationship between these two characters. Their friendship has the right kind of balance. You know that friend that know when you need one but also give you the space when you need it.

Then there is Will. He is the type of kid you just want to reach down and give a big, long hug too. For such a young life, he has gone through so much. This is one of my favorite storylines in the book. Through his relationship with Ruby, we learn the meaning of how people come into your life for a reason.

Without giving too much away, I wanted to introduce you to central figures in the book. There are other people who come into their lives that really create a story worth reading but I will leave that up to you. Every character and what they brought to the book just fit together like a puzzle. The only part that I felt cheated was in the end things happened so quickly. I wish there could’ve been more of an explanation on what led up to things happening. Despite this, I felt redemption in the epilogue because I thought it wrapped the book up beautifully. I recommend this book for the beauty of the story it tells and guarantee that it will leave an imprint that is not only uplifting but reflective.

Reviewed by Michelle Bowles

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