The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland is a gorgeous book inside and out. The cover is to die for and inside the book each chapter is named after a different wild flower and accompanied by a stunning illustration. Even if you never read this book, you’d want to own it based purely on its visual loveliness. So it’s good to know that it’s also a wonderful story.
This debut novel tells the story of Alice Hart, a young girl whose childhood is marred by a terrible tragedy that sees her mother, father and dog killed in a fire. Up until this point, Alice has grown up isolated on a property under the thumb of her abusive father. Alice is emotionally scarred by all that she has been through. Then her paternal grandmother, June, takes Alice to live on an Australian native flower farm that gives refuge to women. It’s in this setting that Alice slowly finds a way to heal. Alice turns to the language of flowers, where every flower has a different meaning, as a way of communicating her loss and making sense of the world. As she grows older she will need to find answers to all that was left behind.
As you might have guessed from my brief description, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a poetic, almost mythic story, that’s very much influenced by the Australian landscape. It also addresses bleak themes such as domestic violence, a topic I always find challenging to read about as it makes my blood boil. There are many good things about this book and the writing is accomplished for a debut novelist. It’s one of those books that you need to read and experience for yourself.
Verdict: A beautiful Australian literary debut.
Thanks to HarperCollins Australia for sending me a copy to review.