Tuesday, 10 April 2018

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland
Published March 2018 by Harper Collins Australia
Source: the publisher
Rating: 4 stars

I've been waiting for The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland ever since she revealed the stunning floral cover featuring illustrations by Edith Rewa, and designed by Hazel Lam. The story did not disappoint.

Nine year old Alice Hart lives with her parents, Agnes and Clem, on a property by the sea. Agnes and Alice aren't allowed to leave the property, so Agnes has taught her daughter at home. Alice loves to read, and Agnes loves to garden. The garden is often a refuge from the violence Clem unleashes on his wife and daughter. Following an accident, Alice is taken in by her grandmother, Clem's mother June. June takes her to Thornfield where she runs a native Australian flower farm that has been in the family for generations. It is here Alice learns the language of flowers and where she later learns the secrets of her family.

This lyrical book captured me immediately, I found myself thinking about the story whenever I wasn't reading. There are multiple settings over the course of the story, and Alice's life, and each one felt atmospheric and vivid. Her childhood home was cold and menacing, Thornfield was more welcoming but also had an uneasy edge, the outback was a place to get lost in.

Set over decades, the story covers a lot of ground and introduces a variety of characters. The plot was heartfelt and real, and so sensitively explored - from the domestic abuse, to the disrespect of Indigenous land.

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland is a stunning debut. It's a beautiful, atmospheric portrait of a family, both the good and the bad. It's also a lovely tribute to the Australian land and flora.

Thank you to Harper Collins for my review copy.

Cover illustration: Edith Rewa Barrett
Cover design: Hazel Lam

Of course I had to paint this cover. I adore floral designs and this has to be one of my favourites. I love the focus on Australian flowers and how beautiful they look against the black background.