The people we meet on the street, on public transport, in shops. Hundreds a day, each with baggage, something which has made their day good, or bad, a story to tell. We don’t know their names, or anything about them in fact, lives just brush past each other.
What does the woman do with the glue, shirt and bottle of wine she just bought? Why is the young man adjusting his shirt every few seconds as if he was waiting to go into a job interview and not waiting for the bus home? All these lives – sometimes intertwined – we know nothing about.
People always say bartenders are like therapists, listening to people’s problems. For Lara, it is similar. Rarely do customers come in, not sharing a little bit about themselves. Flowers are about conveying emotions, feelings, apologies, love notes, forgiveness – and Lara sees it all in her little flower shop in Dublin, Blossom & Grow.
So she told him about the customers, their romances and their anniversaries and celebrations, their special requests and their eccentricities.
About the man who had already proposed to four women. The artist who bought himself a hundred-euro bouquet every time he sold a painting. The girl who sent roses to herself to make her boyfriend jealous.
Each chapter is named after a flower and the thought it is associated with, carrying the novel through the lives of all those customers going in and out of Blossom & Grow. Wisteria – An open heart. Carnation – Disappointment and refusal. Daffodil – Survival and new beginnings. Lily – A new life.
In between all her customers’ emotions, Lara often puts herself and her personal life last, but she, too, needs a Daffodil in her life.
Throughout the book, it is Lara’s personal life that is the guiding thread and timeline. Customers come in and out, grow older and change as she goes from trying to fix her marriage to her new life; from Ivy to Lily. It feels like the Love Actually of books: families, ties that slowly become clear, and Lara’s overriding love for flowers and for her shop.
This was her favourite time of the year. The madness of Valentine’s Day over. Mother’s Day still a month away. The wedding season dot on the horizon. Spring blossoms had been coming in from Holland since December but now flowers from Irish growers were arriving. Daffodils with their frilled trumpets and tissue-paper-delicate anemones and the first tulips with sturdy stems and glossy, tightly packed petals.
The Flower Arrangement, by Ella Griffin
First published June 2015 by Orion
ISBN 13: 9781409145837