The most enchanting debut novel of 2018, this is an irresistible, deeply moving and romantic story of a young girl, daughter of an abusive father, who has to learn the hard way that she can break the patterns of the past, live on her own terms and find her own strength.
An enchanting and captivating novel, about how our untold stories haunt us – and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive.
After her family suffers a tragedy, nine-year-old Alice Hart is forced to leave her idyllic seaside home. She is taken in by her grandmother, June, a flower farmer who raises Alice on the language of Australian native flowers, a way to say the things that are too hard to speak.
Under the watchful eye of June and the women who run the farm, Alice settles, but grows up increasingly frustrated by how little she knows of her family’s story. In her early twenties, Alice’s life is thrown into upheaval again when she suffers devastating betrayal and loss. Desperate to outrun grief, Alice flees to the dramatically beautiful central Australian desert. In this otherworldly landscape Alice thinks she has found solace, until she meets a charismatic and ultimately dangerous man.
Spanning two decades, set between sugar cane fields by the sea, a native Australian flower farm, and a celestial crater in the central desert, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart follows Alice’s unforgettable journey, as she learns that the most powerful story she will ever possess is her own.
‘Lush, powerful … This is an engrossing novel imbued with passion and reverence for the Australian natural world, with a cast of characters that inspire affection in the reader even as they make mistakes. Those who couldn’t put down The Natural Way of Things will find a gentler but no less compelling journey of female survival in this novel.’ Bookseller + Publisher
‘An astonishingly assured debut, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a story of love, loss, betrayal and the redemptive power of storytelling … both heartbreaking and life-affirming.’ Kate Forsyth
‘The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a book that glows – in the fire and heart of it; in the wonder and hope of it. Holly Ringland is a gifted, natural story-teller and her novel-about finding magic in the dark; about the power of freedom and the freedom of story-is truly a light-giving, tender thing. A vivid, compelling, utterly moving debut.’ Brooke Davis
“I loved this brave and beautiful book. Alice Hart has the strength and magic of an Australian wildflower in bloom.” Favel Parrett
‘This novel shines with courage, with heart, and with love. Infused with a tender ferocity, and the beauty and warmth of native flowers, it invokes great stories of loss, kindness and home.’ Ashley Hay
‘The best fairy tales traverse the darkest corners of the human heart, and this beautiful novel is no exception. Truth and illusion, devastation and triumph, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart will spit you out whole.’ Myfanwy Jones
Well, high praise indeed, according to these advance reviews. But, what might the ‘average’ reader (me) make of this novel?
I sit in the middle of the glowing and the not so good.
I enjoyed most of the book. I thought it original and interesting (until I read reviews that referred to similarities to another book titled, The Language of Flowers).
The plot certainly deals with a dark topic and the use of flowers is significant and helps add some light, but as the book went on I found the overuse of the flowers (and the dictionary) more an interruption.
I love reading stories about strong women. I didn’t t feel the character delivered. Alice’s decisions are not necessarily in her best interest. I would have also liked a little more rounding off and tying up of threads. The story seems rushed at the end. I got to know characters that were left behind without resolution for me.
This novel is an interesting one to recommend.
The ending was neither happy, nor was it devastating. I didn’t feel anything other than glad I’d finished. I can’t help but wonder if a happy ending (which I would have liked) would have bumped this book out of the coveted ‘literary’ genre???
This review is also published on Goodreads
Published by Harper Collins Australia