Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Branard

After reading Garden Spells and First Frost, a book about flowers seemed like a natural step. Ruby Jewell (great name!) has been a florist for more than twenty years and she has an almost Waverly-like ability to know which flowers should go together to best serve the person receiving or purchasing the arrangement. She can add just the right stems and colors to make someone feel confident or peaceful or even to help ease the effects of cancer treatments. The residents of the small town of Creekside credit Ruby for bringing couples together and helping them find love. What Ruby needs, they all think, is to help herself it the same way she has helped so many of them. Single and without any living relatives, Ruby has found her own family in the friends she gathers like her bouquets. She has Nora and Jimmy, the two people who work in her flower shop, and she meets Will, a ten-year-old boy who comes to her looking for part-time work. Will has lost his mother and has just come to live with his grandmother. His story closely resembles Ruby's own and she takes him in for a few hours each day. The influence they will have on one another will be incalculable.

The greatest tipping point in Ruby's life was the death of her sister. She took to her bed, never wanting to live again. I was crazy. I was broken. I was dead. And then, one day I wasn't.  It was the sight of beautiful spring flowers outside her window that saved her. When she was able to get herself up, she used what saved her to help the people around her.

One of my favorite characters in this book is Captain Daniel Miller. He is a local celebrity, an astronaut and one of the few men to have walked on the moon. He befriends Ruby and their interactions are so touching. He tells her of the epiphany he had while on one of his missions to the moon and she explains how she knows just how to arrange her flowers. He shares with her so much wisdom, but my favorite was this:

"Sometimes we think there is supposed to be this great spiritual awakening that happens before we make a change in our lives. We expect some 'aha' moment, some beautiful enlightening experience to shape us into the people we want to be, but sometimes it just  happens from the circumstances in our lives that present themselves. We become who we are meant to be because of the things along our edges that pull us into existence."

This is a wonderful book that I truly had a difficult time putting down at night. The characters are sweet and I liked each of them.  If I have any criticism for this book it is that the time lapsed between each chapter was, at times, unclear. I especially appreciated the epilogue that allows the reader to see far into the characters' futures. One couldn't ask for a better ending.

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