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Golden peonies bowing their heads beneath blue delphinium bells. Delicate pink anemones threaded between freckled green orchids. Soft apricot roses woven together with velvety purple irises.
Every bouquet tells a story.
And every story begins at Blossom & Grow, a tiny jewel-like flower shop in the heart of Dublin. Here, among the buckets of fragrant blooms, beneath the flickering candles and lanterns, Lara works her magic. Translating feelings into flower arrangements that change hearts and lives.
But what about her own heart? Has she really healed since she lost her chance to be a mother? What will happen when her own story takes a sudden turn?
Can the flowers that heal the customers work their magic on the florist?
Drawing together a delightful cast of characters, Ella Griffin brings her warmth, wit and wisdom to a captivating tale woven around a Dublin florist.
Q&A WITH ELLA GRIFFIN
The story of Lara and her beautiful shop is full of emotion. Do you believe there is a flower to match each mood.
Flower are like music. They bypass our heads and go straight for our hearts. It’s different for everyone, though. Roses might mean romance to you and grief to me. It’s all about personal experience. I’m always happy when I have sweet peas on my desk. I feel as if my mother is close by, though she’s been gone for nearly fifteen years. And I met my husband on a writing course in Greece, so the heady scent of night-blooming Jasmine always triggers the dizzy rush of falling in love.
Lara uses her talent as a florist to match the perfect bouquet to each customer. Did you pick up some tips when writing this novel.
So many tips and so many stories! Researching a book is usually the dusty, dry part of writing, unless your book is set in a flower shop! I can’t think of a nicer way to spend my time than hang out in workrooms and shops full to bursting with gorgeous blooms. I loved talking to florists and I picked up lots of tips along the way. The one I’ve used most will bring the limpest roses magically back to life. Just cut the stems sideways and stand them in a mug of boiling water overnight. It works! I promise!
Floral bouquets are often associated with births, deaths and marriages. How would you convince someone to gift flowers for a different occasion.
Your question reminds me of this beautiful quote from James Russell Lowell. ‘All the beautiful sentiments in the world weight less than a single lovely action.’
Flowers have the power to express feelings that words can’t carry. Don’t wait for birthdays or anniversary’s to give the people in your life a bouquet. My friend Kate Kerrigan sent me a bouquet on the first Mother’s Day after my mum died. She knew, without asking, that my heart would be broken that day. I will never forget the tenderness and love in that beautiful gesture.
The customers who call in to ‘Blossom & Grow’ each have their own story within the novel. Did you intend this or did they come as the novel was progressing.
Sooner or later every drama shows up at a florist’s door. I wanted the book to be like a bouquet - a glorious mix of different stories and emotions tied together with Lara’s own story of love and loss.
I started out with a list of stories and events, but then other characters and stories came rushing in. There’s a teenage boy in the book called Noah who arrived, literally, from nowhere. I sat down at my computer one morning and there he was, sitting on a wall in the falling snow, the cold seeping through his thin school trousers. There was a speckled moth orchid in a bag by his feet waiting for the love of his fifteen-year old life. How could I not write about him?
The book inspired me to pay more attention to the flowers in my own garden and to display them more often. Do you have a favourite flower that you return to time and time again?
Oh, I’m so happy that reading The Flower Arrangement means that you have more flowers around your house!!! I just read about a new research report that shows how much flowers elevate our mood. I’m not surprised. I know that I’m happier with a vase on my desk.
There are so many flowers that I love, but I think that the sweet peas and the roses my husband grows in the garden are the ones that mean most to me. I love peonies too. The way a tiny, tight peony bud bursts into bloom reminds me of the way in idea for a story blossoms. I bought myself a bunch as a reward for the book coming out.
This is your third novel and I hope there are many more to come! How would you describe your style to readers who have not come across your books yet.
I hope that that my books are warm, heartfelt, uplifting and true.
The Irish writing community is very strong and extremely supportive. Do you think this is due to our small population or is it that we are a nation of poets, playwrights and novelists? Is there something in the air perhaps.
Maybe it’s the rain. That’s what’s in the air outside my window right now. (August, hello! Are you out there somewhere?) Actually maybe there is some truth to that. Maybe our climate has meant that we have spent more time huddled around the fire telling stories. We’re certainly not short of tales to tell. My English novelist friends are amazed at the way Irish writers nurture one another. I am absolutely blessed to have the support and kindness of writers like Cathy Kelly, Marian Keyes and Kate Kerrigan. It has made a huge difference to my journey.
If you could make three bouquets for three famous writers, what flowers would you include in each one.
Wow! What a lovely question! And what a perfect way to thank some of the writers who have given me so much pleasure.
Barbara Kingsolver, author of The Prodigal Summer, would get an arrangement of wild irises and fuchsia picked from the hedgerows on a country lane in the west of Ireland. Her love of nature shines through in her writing. I know that she’d love the pagan beauty of that bouquet.
I’d present David Nicholls with a great big bunch of Brassica to say ‘thank you’ for all the tears and laughter in ‘One Day’ and ‘Us’. Brassica look like giant roses but they are, in fact, ornamental cabbages and they smell quite cabbagy! I hope he’d see the funny side of that.
I’ve only just discovered thrillers. I can’t read the really gory ones but I adored Appletree Yard by Louise Doughty and I would like to give her a tall glass vase full of velvety blue and purple orchids submerged in water - an arrangement as darkly beautiful as her plot.
If you could cast a movie of The Flower Arrangement, who would play Lara.
Julianne Moore. She’d have to grow her hair and dye it black though.
What is next on the agenda for Ella Griffin:
I’m just planning my fourth novel at the moment, choosing the characters I’ll spend the next few months with and trying to find a setting that I will love as much as much as a flower shop! My publisher has asked me to think about writing a sequel to The Flower Arrangement, so you never know. I might find myself back in Blossom & Grow!
You can read my review of The Flower Arrangement here
The Flower Arrangement is published by Orion and is available in TPB and ebook format.
You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage and 24% discount, here. The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below: