Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Barnard

Daisy was not crazy. ~ Opening to The Art of Arranging Flowers


The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Branard
Berkley Trade, 2014
Fiction; 320 pgs

From the Publisher:  
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 needed a book that would fit into the sixth category of the What's In A Name Challenge, and thought The Art of Arranging Flowers would be a perfect fit. Plus, the beautiful cover called out to me, promising a feel good book that was much needed after my having read several heavier books before it.

There was much I liked about The Art of Arranging Flowers.  The small town setting.  The way the characters were there for one another. Ruby's dog, Clementine. I enjoyed getting to know all of the characters. I can't think of one I didn't like.  Ruby is a town's fixture, having been the florist there for years. She is well respected and liked. She knows her customers well, and has been known to give romance between them a little extra push when needed. 

The novel is a quiet one, with not a lot happening, especially early on. While I liked this approach at first, it grew a little tiresome after awhile. I wondered if the level of detail in the main character's actions was necessary.  About half way through, the novel began to pick up again. Still, it wasn't until the end, as I looked back over the book, that I realized just how much had happened and how much had changed for Ruby. It was mostly very subtle and there was something refreshing about that.

In some ways, one could argue that this was a too perfect book with too perfect characters and everything fell into place, well, too perfectly.  It really wasn't perfect though, not completely.  Not for the young woman with cancer, the young boy who was still grieving the loss of his mother, or for Ruby, who had blocked off her heart after her sister's death, unwilling to let anyone get too close. There were other issues as well for many of the other characters.  Each one struggling through life as best they could. All the characters were nice good-hearted people, and to some that might be too perfect and unrealistic, but it fit with the story the author was trying to tell.  I would have liked more depth into some of the more major but minor characters in the book, a closer look at what they were going through or had gone through. It might have strengthened my connection to them and their individual back stories.

I liked the flower talk throughout the novel, the descriptions of their beauty and individuality, as well as their meanings. They were very much their own character in the book.  I appreciated the significance of flowers and plants in Ruby's life, how they changed her, gave her strength and just what they meant in her life, and those around her.

The Art of Arranging Flowers is more of what I would call a light book. There are serious issues touched on in the novel such as grief and loss, substance abuse, regrets and the power of friendship, but the author does not linger on them long.  Overall, I liked The Art of Arranging Flowers. I liked how it left me with a smile on my face as I turned the final page.  And I enjoyed my time in Creekside. 

Rating: * (Good)

You can learn more about Lynne Branard (aka Lynne Hinton) and her books on the author's website

Source: Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley.


© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

16 comments:

  1. Hmm, I feel it'd be better if this story is more in depth. Nevertheless, this still makes a good read if I want something light.

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    1. Melody- I do too. It would have made the book stronger for me. Still, I enjoyed it in the end and am glad I read it.

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  2. Welcome back! Hope all is well, Wendy and that you have fully recuperated.

    Sometimes we all welcome a light book, especially one that leaves you smiling. :)

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    1. Jenclair - Thank you! I'm almost all better. Healing isn't happening as fast as I would like. :-)

      This was definitely a nice change after some of the heavier books I had read right before it.

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  3. I have to be in the right mood to tackle a quiet book - I need plot along with characters.

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    1. Kathy - I do too--otherwise I get bored too easily.

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  4. Sounds like this is a book well suited after a run of heavier novels. Like Melody I feel that it might prove a story better suited to me if it was perhaps more deep. And yet again with issues of substance abuse and the like it could have been a depressing read if the author had lingered.

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    1. Tracy - Yes, it definitely was a good pick after all those heavier books. I do wish it was a bit deeper, the characters more fleshed out, but overall I liked the book.

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  5. I am suspicious of stories that offer neat resolutions to messy issues. This does sound like a good read, though.

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    1. Irene - I tend to be too. Too many neat little bows tying up all the loose ends can be off putting. It's less believable that way. All in all though, it depends on the book for me. Sometimes it's just what I need.

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  6. I've had this on my Kindle for awhile but haven't read it yet. Why it doesn't sound like the most exciting book it sounds like it'd be perfect for when I want something light but with a little heart. Great review!

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    1. Katherine - Yes, that's it exactly: "perfect for when I want something light but with a little heart."

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  7. Yes, welcome back, Wendy! It's good to see you here writing about books again. Missed you! I haven't read this book, and I'm not able to read much right now, though this is light enough I might, if I come across it. Sometimes books that are light are needed, aren't they? Though I usually do want some depth, unless it's Bridget Jones Diary time :-)

    I hope you are healing well, Wendy.

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    1. Susan - Thank you! It's good to be back. :-) I think of you every day and hope you are starting to feel better. I know it hasn't been easy. And yes, definitely lighter books are just what we need sometimes!

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  8. I tried to get this but failed! Love the cover as well as the story

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    1. Mystica - I hope you do read this one if you get the chance!

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