*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart
Author: Holly Ringland
Publisher: House of Anansi
Publication Date: March 19, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
After her family suffers a tragedy when she is nine years old, Alice Hart is forced to leave her idyllic seaside home. She is taken in by her estranged 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. But Alice also learns that there are secrets within secrets about her past. Under the watchful eye of June and The Flowers, women who run the farm, Alice grows up. But an unexpected betrayal sends her reeling, and she flees to the dramatically beautiful central Australian desert. Alice thinks she has found solace, until she falls in love with Dylan, a charismatic and ultimately dangerous man.
This novel was a vivid and beautiful story of a young woman looking to find herself. Set in the vast expanse of Australia, this story is so incredibly sensory and tactile. Flowers permeate and inform the story in a language all their own. Alice Harts life and the history of her family, as she learns the language of the flowers, she begins to understand herself and the deepest family secrets more and more. Her story is one of neglect and abuse. It’s shocking and gut-wrenching. This story will break your heart in so many ways, but in the end, it’s a story of family, abuse, recovery, forgiveness, self-discovery, and it is beautiful and moving.
The characters in this story are all so incredibly complex and intense. We see Alice throughout her life, so we know her best. She struggles with deep scars and has the greatest battles to fight as she learns to understand herself and who she is. I connected with her on so many levels as she blossomed from a child into a young woman. Alice has been who she’s been told to be for so long, taking the path that her grandmother, June, set out for her. Alice experiences incredible transformation in this story, but not without terrible bumps along the road. Alice is so pure at heart, but she is so open to being hurt. She must really learn to stand up for herself and to declare who she is to the world. June, also, is a woman with incredible depth. Her past is haunted by pain and it plagues her present. She cannot outrun the sadness and anger that she’s lived through and it weighs her down and traps her in an unbreakable vice. Even Alice’s presence in her life is not enough. June is so complicated and tortured. Her pain permeates through the house and affects her relationships drastically.
My absolute favourite thing about this book is that it’s also a very beautiful book to experience as you read. Flowers, as I mentioned before, thread throughout this whole story. This also includes a very visual experience. The Table of Context is outlined by a frame of hand-drawn flowers and each chapter opens with a drawing of a flower along with it’s name and definition. It’s so stunning. These flowers mirror Alice’s own flower dictionary and the story that she writes about her life. We get to experiences a little of her own creation throughout this story. The little details like this really bring the story to life.
I loved this book and I’d highly recommend it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.