Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Review: The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Branard

The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne… 

Here's the book's description from Netgalley:
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.

I really, really, really loved this one.  To be honest, I was a bit worried it would be too corny, too "romantic comedy" or something for me.  Based solely on the description.  But I read a review of it somewhere (can't remember which blog!), and decided to give it a try.  So glad I did!

Ruby is a character you can really relate with.  After her sister's death, she is so numb with grief, she can't do anything but lay in bed.  Then one day she wakes up and sees flowers outside her window.  And so she becomes a florist.  20ish years later she's still at it, with her faithful dog Clementine at her side.

This story is one of healing, of acceptance, of letting go of these outside of our control.  Ruby comes to realize how much her sister's death so long ago has really shaped the person she is, and she begins to realize that pieces of her were lost with the death of her sister.  Any time you lose someone very close to you I think this happens.  Something is gone, not just physically, but also inside, and it is very, very hard to get it back.  It took Ruby 20 years.

I just love how her flower arrangement seem to help the people in her small town.  There are so many sweet moments in this book tied to her flower shop.  There's Henry the barber who's in love with a woman who may not even know he exists.  And he is such a character when he buys bouquets from Ruby.

My favorite character though has to be Dan, the former astronaut, who just happens to walk into Ruby's life at the right moment.  He becomes a very close and dear friend of hers, and he gives the best advice.  Everyone needs a friend like Dan in their lives.

This isn't just a "feel good, heartwarming" book.  It's so much more than that.  It is about being in a dark place, realizing it, and being able to be brave and step out of that and live the life you should be living.

I so definitely recommend this one.  By the time I was finished, I was so sad to leave Ruby's world behind.  It's one book I'll probably go back to and reread over the years.

Here are some favorite quotes (note though that I got a copy of this from Netgalley, so some quotes may be different.  I plan on buying the hard copy of this and will then make any adjustments to these):

Page 125: "Have you ever felt connected with something or someone, had a sense that you had always been together and that no matter how much distance there is between you, you are always and forever linked?"

Page 200: "Ruby, time with a friend is never taken, only shared."

And then this next quote is actually from a poem by Sir Walter Raleigh, but it's used in the book at a very special moment and I just love it:
Page 242: "When at heart you should be sad.
Pondering the joys we had, listen and keep very still.  If the lowing from the hill or the toiling of a bell do not serve to break the spell, listen: you may be allowed to hear my laughter from a cloud."

How lovely is that?!

Have you had a chance to read this one yet?  What did you think?  Also on a side note, I could never be a florist, I'd arrange the same thing every single time!

Title: The Art of Arranging Flowers
Author: Lynne Branard
Date of Publication: June 3rd, 2014
Number of Pages: 320
Genre: Fiction
Source: Netgalley

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