THE LOST FLOWERS OF ALICE HART - by Holly Ringland

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Published: March 2018 - Harper Collins. 
Genres: Adult / contemporary / drama.  
Pages: 400.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Child abuse / strong sexual innuendos / physical and emotional abuse. 
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. I voluntarily read & reviewed this copy. All thoughts are my own.

When tragedy changes her life irrevocably, nine-year-old Alice Hart goes to live with the grandmother she never knew existed, on a native flower farm that gives refuge to women who, like Alice, are lost or broken. In the Victorian tradition, every flower has a meaning and, as she settles into her new life, Alice uses this language of flowers to say the things that are too hard to speak.

As she grows older, though, family secrecy, a devastating betrayal, and a man who's not all he seems combine to make Alice realise there are some stories that flowers alone cannot tell. If she is to have the freedom she craves, she must find the courage to possess the most powerful story she knows: her own.




Ringland's writing is as if brightly coloured flowers were spun into words. Poetic, haunting, whimsical...every line is sewn with breathtaking acuity and imagery. You're swept into Alice's world. You're transfixed by the dark fairytale as if it were unfolding right before your eyes. It's evocative and consuming.

The story is painful. Gut-wrenching. The abuse Alice endures, the abuse her mother endured, it's so heartbreaking and yet so sensitively written. Without shying away from the mental and physical scars left by such abusive relationships, Ringland handles these subjects with care. It's not gratuitous. It's not sugar-coated. But it's powerful, oh so powerful, and enough to break your heart.

The pace never wanes. The plot moves fast, and it's riveting, coursing with soulful emotion. I also love the concept of the flowers and how these women learn to "speak their language". It's magical, but in a very real sense.

The setting, too, is magnificent. The sounds and sights and smells are tangible, with intricate details and flushes of colour in every scene. It's a vivid, diverse world, and I felt as if I were experiencing it firsthand.


 Pain on the outside softened the sharp feelings inside she couldn’t reach.”



Alice is a wonderful heroine. We watch her go from a mute, traumatised little girl, to a naive and frenzied teenager, to a passionate but distressed young woman. Her character is etched in soulful innocence and shaped from the broken parts of her past; she's a strong, soulful young woman, struggling to find her identity and come to terms with her family's secrets, and utterly comes alive on the page. My heart broke watching her grapple with her scars, and I triumphed in tears as she reunited with her little brother at the end of the story.

Likewise, the women on the flower farm (predominantly Twig, June, and Candy) are brilliantly written. They've all got their pasts and agendas, and the way they take care of Alice and of each other is lovely. Even the women whom Alice meets on her travels (Ruby and Lulu) and who don't get much page time, are compelling and real. 




From The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart blossoms an extraordinary tale of hope and healing. Every page as incisively poetic as the last, Ringland weaves a tragically beautiful story and delivers a profound exploration of a broken family and a lost girl.   

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