Book Review: THE ART OF ARRANGING FLOWERS by Lynne Branard

Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 3, 2014
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★

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.

THE ART OF ARRANGING FLOWERS is a sentimental tale of an emotionally closed off florist whose life is touched by a retired astronaut, a divorced veterinarian, and an orphaned boy. Ruby has been the florist in a small Washington town for 20 years. After a very rough childhood and the death of her sister many years ago, she built walls around her heart to avoid being hurt again. For the past two decades, she’s stood back and let the language of her flowers affect people’s lives, until three strangers challenge Ruby to open her guarded heart.

This book sounds very sweet, and it was – maybe a bit too sweet for my taste. Ruby believed her arrangements had magical powers, and a lot of the book was her talking about flowers and what they stood for. I know this book is about a florist, but I felt like the story and characters got lost in flowers. The book dealt with some heavy issues in a sympathetic way, and I might describe it as melancholy chick lit. There was a happy, hopeful ending, even though I’d hoped things would work out between Ruby and the other man.

Ultimately, this was about Ruby learning to love again after loss. Things came together fairly easily, with no big twists or surprises. This wasn’t a bad read, but it just didn’t grab my attention like I’d hoped. It all wrapped up with a touching epilogue.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.