BOOK REVIEW: THE ART OF ARRANGING FLOWERS by Lynne Branard 3.6.14

The Art of Arranging Flowersby Lynne Branard
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 there is healing that can put it right again.
Length: pb and kindle 320 pgsPublished: June 3.2014Publisher: Berkley Trade*My Thoughts?

I want to unfold. I don’t want to stay folded anywhere,
because where I am folded, there I am a lie.
” — Rilke

An endearing story that begins with Ruby at the furthest point from the above quote, bringing her to this new perspective in the process of the book’s journey.  Ruby is insightful and creative in relational advice to customers of her flower shop, yet, when we first meet her, entirely disconnected from her own heart.  She has hurdles to overcome from her past and whilst she has no problem in instructing others, she remains at arms length from others’ advice.Each customer to her florist shop is an influencer as Ruby herself is an influence on them with her ready chat and personal creative floral selections.  It would be an interesting place to live if the town was a reality!  People with real needs, hopes, and dreams – from a perceptive young boy with family losses, a new-in-town vet with relational upheaval, to a celebrated astronaut facing health concerns – we come to know and care about the unique characters Ms Branard has skillfully created.Relational discoveries and interventions kept my interest.Floral interpretations in arrangements sounded beautiful and the entire florist shop business was obviously well researched.  Perhaps, a bit more than  necessary for the novice flower lover?  Magical powers ascribed to colour selections or particular flowers caused some suspension of belief  seemingly offering quite a cross pollination of spirituality throughout.Although I really enjoyed the various relational connections developed throughout the novel, I wasn’t emotionally engaged with Ruby.  A consistent distance separated us, as though I too was held at arms length.I really wanted more romance between Ruby and her obvious love interestand at a particular story point – I refer to Ruby’s dog, Clementine’s, escape from a porcupine –  it felt as though the ball had been dropped without explanation.  It could have taken a much different direction providing resolution both sooner and sweeter.Thankfully the epilogue brought a greater sense of satisfaction to the reading.  Authentic situations, quirky characters, and unusual responses, The Art of Arranging Flowers is a contemporary story revealing poignancy of past regrets and the miracles of restoration…  { and a very lovely cover to whet your appetite for reading!}*Author Bio:

Lynne Hinton [aka Branard] was born and raised in North Carolina. She attended Wake Forest University and is a graduate of UNC-Greensboro. She also attended NC School of the Arts, School of Filmmaking and graduated with her Masters of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. She is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and has served as a hospice chaplain and as a senior pastor in Guilford County and Asheboro, North Carolina and in Rio Rancho, New Mexico and as the interim pastor in northeastern Washington.

Lynne is the author of sixteen books, including the NY Times Bestseller,Friendship Cake and Pie Town, the 2011 NM Book of the Year: Fiction/Adventure, Drama Category and 2011 National Federation of Press Women’s Fiction Book of the Year. She has penned a mystery series under the name, Jackie Lynn and has one nonfiction collection of essays. She is a regular guest columnist in the Faith and Values Section for The Charlotte Observer and was the 2008 Lucy B. Patterson Author of the Year by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in NC. In 2010, she was the recipient of a Louisville Institute Pastoral Study Grant and was named 2012 Favorite Local Writer in Albuquerque, New Mexico by Albuquerque, The Magazine.

She has been endorsed by authors Sue Monk Kidd, Rita Mae Brown, Silas House, Malachy McCourt, Jacquelyn Mitchard, and her favorite, Dr. Maya Angelou, who wrote about the novel, Friendship Cake, “I would welcome a friendship with Lynne Hinton. I would welcome an invitation to sit down at her table, but mostly I would welcome her next book.”
Publishers Weekly has written, “Hinton has a knack in her novels for tapping into a woman’s longings for lifelong, authentic, messy friendships.”
Lynne and her husband, Bob Branard, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico where Lynne works as a hospice chaplain and continues to write as well as teach classes and lead retreats on writing as a spiritual and healing practice.

Find Lynne online at Lynne Hinton**My appreciation to Berkley for providing an ecopy for reading without cost or compensation in exchange for my review .**

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