Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Novel Idea

"Boat Ran Aground" (Copyright Ralph Klein. All Rights Reserved.)
To purchase this as a print visit Posterlounge
I've run aground upon the dry shores of "appropriate" reference material. In an attempt to push my writing vessel back out to sea where I can catch the momentum of the wind, I've turned to an unlikely source for information and inspiration.

Popular fiction is not typically considered bona fide research material. However, in order to write a credible story for readers of all backgrounds, a writer must do a certain amount of research to write her story.

My current project with EraGem Jewelry requires in-depth knowledge and understanding of the stories of antique jewelry pieces and the people who wore them. Along my research path, I found myself browsing the library catalog in search of The Language of Flowers*, by Kate Greenaway.

A Victorian Era code book detailing the meanings of flowers during that era, The Language of Flowers* promised to be the perfect companion to Jeweled Garden*, by Suzanne Tennenbaum and Janet Zapata. Jeweled Garden has proven an invaluable source of information about botanically-inspired jewelry throughout history.

Flower Shop Exterior (Crysanthemums = Truth)
Photo Source: The City Sage

Though the Redding Library does not have a copy of Ms. Greenaway's book, I did find a novel with the same title by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I promptly went out and borrowed a copy, and it does indeed reveal a wealth of information about the meanings of flowers--an important foundation for me to lay, as Victorian jewelry designers often embedded coded messages within the color and form of each piece.

Not only am I learning about this tradition of sending secret messages with flowers and jewelry, but I'm also enjoying the story about a broken young woman's journey out of the foster care system. Having grown up without a place or purpose, Victoria is sent out into the world on her eighteenth birthday, seemingly ill prepared for what she will encounter. A few days of sleeping in the park lead her to Bloom, a flower shop where her unique knowledge of flowers and their meanings lands her a job with Bloom's owner, Renata. Soon Victoria's secret knowledge of plants begins to cause her customers to bloom in their circumstances. I am hopeful that she, too, will begin to come alive as she discovers her place in the world.

A Cherished Scene

"After three blocks I came to a liquor store, where paper-wrapped bouquets wilted in buckets under barred windows. I paused in front of the store. They were mostly mixed arrangements, their messages conflicting. The selection of solid bouquets was small: standard roses in red and pink, a wilting bunch of striped carnations, and, bursting from its paper cone, a cluster of purple dahlias. Dignity. Immediately, I knew it was the message I wanted to give. Turning my back on the angled mirror above the door, I tucked the flowers inside my coat and ran." (Diffenbaugh, The Language of Flowers*, p. 5)

Vintage Daisy Flower Brooch (not Victorian Era)
Photo Used with Permission from EraGem Jewelry

What I've Learned So Far

If I were going to give my daughter a gift of jewelry,
I would buy her a hair clip with a daisy on it to celebrate her innocence.

If I were going to purchase a brooch for myself,
I would choose a tiger lily to represent the queen I am becoming.

If I were going to give my husband a gift,
I would choose a potted Indian jasmine as a sign of our attachment to one another.

If I were going to plant a garden in honor of my son's birthing day,
I would choose periwinkle for the ground cover, tender remembrances.

I look forward to sharing more as I continue to read. By the way, if you've read Ms. Diffenbaugh's story, I'd love to hear what number you would assign it on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 = Couldn't get into it; 5 = Finished it, but wouldn't recommend it; 10 = I own it now). Leave me a comment with your rating and your favorite scene.

Peace & Joy,

*This is an associate link to Amazon. I will receive an associate commission for any purchases made through this link. I thank all those who are willing to purchase recommended books through these associate links. These commissions help support me as a freelance writer.

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