The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Apr 2018

Member Reviews

Alice is only 9 years old, living with her parents on a small coastal town in Australia. She and her mother have to try and learn her father's moods, but it doesn't seem to work to well as her pregnant mother is covered in bruises and she has a few herself. She dreams of a different life, and receives it in the most tragic way - losing both her parents and moving to Thornfield.
Thornfield is a flower farm where her paternal Grandmother, that she has never met, lives. The farm is managed by women who are all running from something, have secrets long forgotten, or just nowhere else to go, and they are called "The Flowers". The farm has been in the family for generations and the first woman to create the flower farm also created meanings for all of the Australian native flowers there and these are kept in a special dictionary that each generation of women then learn.
This is the main part of the book as Alice grows from 9 to 26 and although she has escaped her physically abusive father, she is extremely cocooned at Thornfield and remains very naive, but also dreaming of something more.
Circumstances see Alice flee Thornfield and into the tough, hot, red. expanse that is central Australia. Even here as she makes a life for herself, flowers continue to be a part of her life and secrets are still hidden.
This is a beautifully written book and as I was reading I kept comparing her style in my mind to Alice Hoffman. It was no surprise then, when in the Acknowledgements, the author talks about her love of Hoffman and even a friendship they have begun. The style is similar in that they both use beautiful, but not wordy, descriptions that transport you. Hoffman also likes to use use symbols/myth/legend within to guide the protagonist, and here Ringland has done this with flowers.
Each chapter starts a description of a native flower and it's meaning which sets up the course of the chapter to come. The descriptions of Australia, and especially the Outback are mesmerising and exquisite.  The page numbers are also deceiving at only 400 pages, because it is actually quite a long book (the audio is almost 14 hours), but I never felt that it dragged or was boring.
At it's heart this book is about the cycle of domestic violence and the large, ongoing, impacts it has on all. That theme is not overpowering though as it also explores love, family and trust. What a fantastic debut novel. And let's not forget the cover which is one of the most beautiful I have seen.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
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3.5★
“Most of the time he spent inside followed the awful things he did. But when he came out, he was always better. Alice had decided his shed held a transformational kind of magic, as if within its walls was an enchanted mirror, or a spinning wheel.
. . . 
She’d read about alchemy in her library books; she knew the tale of Rumpelstiltskin. Her father’s shed was where he spun straw into gold.”

Stunning cover and an unbeatable opening sentence, which has been widely quoted (but that won’t stop me from sharing it again. It’s terrific, especially for a debut novel.

”In the weatherboard house at the end of the lane, nine-year-old Alice Hart sat at her desk by the window and dreamed of ways to set her father on fire.”

She means literally, not metaphorically, because he already managed to flare up unexpectedly at Alice and her mother without provocation. She would have been happy to set him alight. Her mother, used to his temper and abuse, always made excuses about what she should have done differently not to upset him. The author understands the situation very well and has said it comes from her own abusive background. I feel for her and for Alice.

Alice’s mother has been cut off from all family, her own and her husband’s (also typical of an abusive relationship), and Alice is a lonely child with poorly patched clothes and no friends except for Oggi, the Hungarian boy at school who is bullied as much as she is.

He shows her one of the first circle tricks, and it’s one that appears in later instances in other formats in the book. Both her mother and Oggi’s are keen gardeners, which I think seems to be true of many people seeking refuge in the natural world from their own which has become unnatural. At Oggi’s house, he gathered rose petals and scattered them in a circle and sat down inside it.

“‘After my dad died I did this to make myself feel better.’ Oggi wrapped his arms around his knees. ‘I told myself, anything inside the circle is safe from sadness. I’d make the circle as big or as little as I’d like. Once when Mum wouldn’t stop crying I made a circle around the whole house. Except I had to use all of the petals on her roses to do that, and she didn’t react the way I thought she would.’”

I’m sure his mum was not as impressed as Alice was. But Alice understands flowers, having learned something of the language of flowers from her mother, and each chapter is introduced with the name of an Australian native flower and its description. 

Author Holly Ringland invented the language for this book, but we know Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet where she gives flowers, saying, "There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” Sprigs of rosemary are used in Australia for remembrance on Anzac Day. Everyone wears a sprig of real rosemary the way people wear poppies (usually paper, I think) on Memorial (Poppy) Day. 

And many people say certain numbers of certain colours of roses signify certain sentiments. I think it’s a lovely concept and an interesting idea for introducing each chapter with a hint as to the meaning coming up. 

As for the story itself, after a family tragedy, we follow Alice through a few metamorphoses as she finds new homes and tribes, so to speak. We meet a grandmother, who lives on a rural property and runs a big flower enterprise where she looks after other “lost” women of various ages, many of whom have suffered abuse. Grandmother June shares no information with Alice but remembers (for us) her own mother and grandmother and the men who were a problem. 

Men mostly get pretty short shrift in this book, while women are the backbone. Although even some of them can’t be trusted, and we’re too often told they have secrets. I found far too much curling up into a weeping ball, not only by Alice but also by other women contemplating their own losses. 

And there were countless cups of tea or favourite foods or hearty meals and what seemed to be almost instant deep friendships. This is not to mention Alice being sucked into the magic of an unwise romance when she moves to the desert. She thinks she’s finally found a place to stop

“After weeks in the desert, there was something about feeling small, unfamiliar and out of place that Alice enjoyed. It was as if she could, at any moment, recreate herself entirely, and no one would notice. She could be whomever she chose.”

She’s really running around in circles. This is a story of circles. Family circles that are broken, new ones that are established, stretched, reformed, circles of stars encompassing feelings too big to express, circles of petals formed as places of safety, and a giant circle of Sturt’s Desert Peas in a desert crater as a bright red Heart Garden. 

it sounds beautiful. Many descriptions are beautiful. I felt there were too many characters, too many stories competing for attention, and too much misery and tears. And too many secrets that didn’t need to be kept, leading to a rather abrupt ending.

I think this author will find a big fan base – she’s got a lot of talent, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for her next book.

Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers Australia for the preview copy from which I’ve quoted.
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I had high hopes at the beginning of this book, being drawn in by the voice of 8-year-old Alice Hart, describing her horrific life under the roof of her abusive father. And I really liked the concept of plot, with the family secrets and how history repeats itself, but unfortunately I’m not on the same page as everyone else - the writing really let me down. The reoccurring themes of fire, and the language of flower just overpowered everything good about this novel; it was repetitive, spoke to me in riddles at times and distracted me from the plot. I felt behaviour of Alice Hart too overdramatic and forced – if someone in real life fainted that many times as Alice did I would seriously recommend a thorough medical checkup. Besides the gorgeous cover, this novel really didn’t work for me.

Thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for my review copy.
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TW: Animal Abuse, Abusive Parenting, Physical Abuse, Abusive Relationships, Death, PTSD, Panic Attacks, Rape

Holy Crap you guys, This book is absolutely brilliant. As you can see by the trigger warnings (tw) this book is pretty heavy. It’s based around a girl raised in an abusive home and features many types of abusive relationships from different perspectives. It’s a really interesting and heartbreaking read and if you think you can handle it I honestly do recommend it. Though, I do want to stress that, yes there are multiple abusive relationships there is also animal cruelty (all inflicted by male characters) towards dogs in this book. I know, that more than anything that is what almost set me off many times while reading this book, and it didn’t help that I read the whole book in one day.

I will say that I don’t know if everything in this book is a good depiction of grief or abuse but, I will say that in the way it was written, it felt real. Because of the amazing writing, everything in this book felt real, I felt like I knew the characters in this novel and I really felt like I understood the main character.

This was fantastic, especially for a debut novel. This book tackles so much and handles grief and abuse in a very real way, in that you don’t always know it’s abuse until it’s too late, which is a very honest portrayal of abuse. Holly Ringland has written something truly special with this book.
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I should have realised this was not the book for me when I saw reviews remarking on the similarities between  it and The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. It seems flowers do not speak to me and sadly nor did The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart.

I found the book to be over long and very disjointed. New characters were still being added with back stories in the final third of the book which I found annoying. The main character was way, way over the top. I lost count of how many times she vomited or fainted as a reaction to stress. Normal people slam a door or have a good cry. I am not even going to start on Agnes and Alice and their abusive relationships. 

On the plus side there is that beautiful cover! And behind all the melodrama there was a good story trying to get out. Some of the characters, like the Flowers, were interesting and the descriptions of the Australian countryside were detailed and very effective.

I know many people love this book and I am one of few who does not. Note to self : No more books about the language of flowers.
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My Thoughts

‘Who were the people that sent flowers instead of words? How could a flower possibly say the same things as words? What would one of her books, made of thousands of words, look like in flowers?’

Having read the reviews and seen the incredible publicity surrounding this book,  I entered this read with cautiously high expectations. I was not disappointed, so much so, that if  there is one book you read this year, make it this one. I now fully appreciate the attention Holly Ringland is receiving as her book is a most worthy recipient. On these pages you will find complete heartbreak as secrets bring about such violence and regret. Yet through it all is hope and that is what you cling to. You can’t leave Alice’s side with all she seeks to be and do from such a young age, right through to adulthood. 

I simply adore how each chapter opens with a drawing and detailed information of a particular native flower that would be pertinent to that chapter - each flower so clearly carefully selected. So whilst it may read like a guide to Australia’s native flora, it is so much more with the powerful links being made between the use of the flower and how it conveys or relates to the underlying theme of what you are about to read. 

‘She might not know where or how to begin talking to the child, but she could do the next best thing. Teach her the ways of speaking through flowers.’

Then there are the array of characters - wow - so complex and engaging. Do not be misled though, this is not an easy read. In parts you will be confronted by terrible, horrific incidents of brutality and violence - but once again it is the flowers, the hope that you cling to. The settings are breathtaking - from coast to rural inland to remote desert. These locations add to the whole ambience of the novel.  Finally, the themes are almost as vast as the territory covered - heartbreak and incredible sadness, love and hate, secrets and betrayal, terrible trauma with the hope of survival. This is a tale of the lost and found, forgiveness and acceptance, renewal and the future. Huge isn’t it! Commanding it is!

‘Thornfield had always been a place where flowers and women could bloom. Every woman who came to Thornfield was given the opportunity to grow beyond the things in life that had trampled her.’

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is one of ‘those’ books, as it will captivate and consume you. It is such an incredible story and so deftly handled, that you cannot fail to be moved by all it presents. Do yourself a favour and take a journey into the world of Alice Hart. 

Her future glowed ahead of her, an ember waiting to be breathed to life.





This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.
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Book blurb...
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

My thoughts…
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.

*spoiler*
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???
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Flowers and their meanings give uniqueness and beauty to this story of a woman's journey to her true self.
There are some confronting scenes some people will find very uncomfortable to read, but they are important, the sort of story that happens daily but is rarely told.
The cast of characters is primarily female but it is far from what could be termed a 'girly' novel. A myriad of strengths and weaknesses, tied together by wordless sisterhood. Each on their own journey, but tied to one another to some degree. Men also have their own roles, each important to the story.
The conclusion is an unexpected turn, but is satisfying in its way.
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From the spellbinding cover to the very last page, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this debut novel by Holly Ringland.

"In the weatherboard house at the end of the lane, nine-year-old Alice Hart sat at her desk by the window and dreamed of ways to set her father on fire." 

It's difficult to think of a more dramatic opening line, but this is how we meet our protagonist, Alice. She's a child living an isolated life by the sea with her gentle mother, who talks to the flowers in her garden, and a violent, jealous father who loves his wife so much she is constantly covered in bruises. When catastrophe visits the Hart family, Alice is taken inland to live with the grandmother she never knew she had, at Thornfield, a native flower farm. There Alice slowly comes to terms with her grief, and June vows not to make the same mistakes raising Alice, as she did raising her son - Alice's father.

The years pass and Alice's life is seemingly enmeshed in the farm, where she has learnt the language of native flowers just like all the women in her family that came before her. Love comes and goes, but on the night of a devastating storm, when Alice finds out that she has been betrayed, she abandons her life at Thornfield and flees to the central Australian desert. There she reinvents herself as a national park ranger and begins to think she may at last have found happiness.

Sometimes heartbreaking and at other times uplifting, this is a story about family, love, loss, regret and secrets. More than anything, Alice wanted to find out her own story, but it was the secrets kept by those who loved her most that prevented her from discovering who she was and where she came from. 

I was totally absorbed in this story and read it slowly to prolong the enjoyment. I would have rated it higher, but towards the end, the story took a temporary detour that didn't sit well with me, leaving me feeling frustrated with Alice. Nevertheless I recommend it highly.
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The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a delightful tale that follows the aftermath of the tragic deaths of Alice's parents in a horrifying fire that consumed their seaside home. Alice is taken in by her estranged grandmother, June, and it is under her care, and the care of the other Flowers that work for her that Alice gradually starts to find her voice and slowly starts on the path to heal. All the while learning about her family heritage and the language of flowers. The journey takes a sharp turn, however, when Alice comes face to face with a betrayal that leaves her reeling, and fleeing for the desert.

A beautiful and heart wrenching debut from Holly Ringland, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart had me hooked from the attention grabbing first line: "In the weatherboard house at the end of the lane, nine-year-old Alice Hart sat at her desk by the window and dreamed of ways to set her father on fire." Captivating and enchanting, this is a tale of redemption, healing, and unraveling the stories of the past, while carving out a future for yourself.
 
The story told predominantly in Alice's voice, starting as her nine year old self, and following her as she grows up into a young woman in her late twenties. Other minor characters also occasionally lend their thoughts too, but it is usually brief and it is never long before we're once more in Alice's shoes. And although I often find multiple points of view jarring, Holly Ringland skillfully weaved them together, and I appreciated the insights the eclectic mix of minor characters throughout offered.

I found the novel so well written, that it is difficult to believe that this is Ringland's debut, and I can't wait to read more of her works.

* This ebook ARC was provided by HarperCollins Publishers Australia through NetGalley for an honest review.
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An amazing debut, this is a touching story of learning who you are and the strength that you have inside. Set over two decades, you really feel like you get to know Alice, her struggles become yours, her pain, her triumphs. A great read
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5* Lost Flower Stars

The cover of this book is absolutely exquisite and I am happy to say once the book is opened and the pages read it continues with its beauty in the storytelling. The description of the Australian Native Flowers and their healing properties and the Outback were exceptional and very interesting.

The story centers on Alice Hart and her struggles to overcome “the cards that have been dealt to her”. Her life is filled with heartbreak, betrayal, love, loss and hope and of course family.  Along the way Alice is surrounded by interesting characters, some likeable and some not, each with their own story to tell. 

I devoured this read. The authors’ writing was so heartfelt and magical; it is hard to believe that this is her debut novel. She certainly has made a huge impact on the publishing industry and I cannot wait to read more from this wonderful author.

Many thanks to HarperCollins Publishers Australia and NetGalley for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.
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‘Each flower is a secret language.’

From the opening sentence, this novel held my attention:

‘In the weatherboard house at the end of the lane, nine-year-old Alice Hart sat at her desk by the window and dreamed of ways to set her father on fire.’

It didn’t take me long to appreciate why Alice might want to set her father on fire: Clem Hart is an abusive, violent man who controls Alice and her mother Agnes.  When tragedy strikes the Hart family, Alice is sent to live with her paternal grandmother: June.  Because Clem was estranged from his mother, Alice did not know her.  Imagine:  a nine-year-old child, having to move away from the place she knew as home, to live with a grandmother she did not know existed.  I kept reading.  June Hart farms Australian native flowers, with the help of a group of women known as the Flowers.  Each of the Flowers has her own story, and we’ll learn some of them.  It’s a supportive environment for Alice, who grows to adulthood learning about the language of flowers.  There’s a future for Alice, if she wants it, running the farm.

‘Speaking through flowers had become the language she most relied on.’

But life is complicated, and Alice leaves the farm and makes her way into the central Australian desert.  Will she find what she’s looking for? Is it a place she needs, or simply the time and space to remember?  Each chapter is linked to a native flower, each flower is significant in Alice’s journey.  

‘Trust your story.   All you can do is tell it true.’

I’d like to write more about the story, but my descriptions and interpretations could well spoil a first time read.  I found it difficult to put this book down and yet I had to sometimes in order to try to integrate what I’d read.  I wanted Alice (and June) to make different choices at times: I wanted the road to be less tortuous, the choices to be simpler. I wanted Alice not to have to repeat mistakes to learn from them.  In short, Alice got under my skin in a way that few fictional characters do.  I finished the novel wanting more, but confident that Alice had found her own way.  

This is Ms Ringland’s first novel: I hope it is the first of many.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.  The cover and internal illustrations by Edith Rewa Barrett are beautiful and I’ll be buying my own copy of this novel.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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The days when her father wasn’t home were the best of all for young Alice Hart. She and her mother would tend the garden together, finding a calm and peace that was never around when he was there. Alice adored her mother and was terrified of her father. But at nine years of age, a tragedy meant Alice had to live with her grandmother – a woman she had never met – on a flower farm a long way from the seaside that was the only home Alice had known.

Gradually Alice came to love the flowers and their meanings. The way they spoke when words were too hard. Learning the language of flowers created a peace within Alice – until her peace was shattered. With her heart broken, she fled the farm and all it had meant to her, driving without knowing where she was headed. Alice’s unexpected destination was deep in the Australian desert where the Sturt’s desert pea was prolific and filled with meaning.

Haunting and dangerous – that was her time in the middle of Australia. But would Alice ever find solace? Could she make peace with her past and finally look forward to the future? 

Enchanting; heartbreaking; divine! Stunning; spectacular; poignant! What a debut! The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is all that and more, by an Australian author I’ll be keeping an eye out for from now on! Holly Ringland’s debut novel is full of depth and emotion; the story of a young girl who had to find the strength to live a life which was so different from the one she had envisioned. The cover of the book is beautiful – I was drawn to it – the beginning of each chapter with the type of Australian native flower and its meaning adds more to the story. Holly Ringland has captured the essence of Australia, and I have no hesitation in recommending The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart highly.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read and review.
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Have courage, take heart.
Alice Hart endures much suffering across three iconically Australian settings: the beach, the farm and the desert. 
Holly Ringland’s debut novel explores trauma, healing, violence, land ownership, honesty, belonging, self discovery and peace. 
The language of flowers has always fascinated me and I loved the idea of using Australian wildflowers to further explore this trope.
I think perhaps this book is best read as a fairytale. Suspend disbelief and travel alongside your heroine, her odyssey is emotionally arduous but there is much to enjoy along the way. 
The exquisite cover and beautiful internal illustrations are the work of the talented Edith Rewa Barrett with design by Hazel Lam. For these stunning creations alone, the book is worth the purchase.
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The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a bittersweet and enchanting coming-of age story exploring a young woman’s ability to overcome childhood trauma and the legacy of forbidden love and loss passed on from generations of women before her.

Alice Hart has been growing up with a volatile, often violent father and her quiet, shy mother on a remote coastal property in a tropical region of NE Australia. Forbidden to venture into town or go to school, her only friends are her dog Toby and the fictional characters out of the books her father occasionally brings home for her from the town library. Her mother, bruised and battered from her husband’s violent outbursts, finds solace in her garden, where she teaches Alice the magical language of the flowers growing there in abundance. One day, after a particularly bad rage, an unthinkable tragedy happens, one that will leave Alice an orphan and change her life forever.

Now first of all – take a moment to admire this stunning cover! Isn’t it gorgeous? The images of the Australian native flowers featured here are what first drew me to this book, as it is so rare to find novels that do justice to the unique Australian flora, let alone use it as characters in their stories. The flowers and plants Ringland has chosen all feature prominently in the story, each highlighting an aspect of Alice’s life as she grows up surrounded by the wild beauty of the Australian bush. If I had any fears that Ringland’s novel would be simply an Australian version of Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers, I was soon reassured, because Alice’s story is unique and unusual. I loved the chapter headings describing the hidden meaning of different Australian plants, and could picture June’s garden vividly in my mind, as the lush paradise it is described as. The setting of this story is vivid and enchanting, and I felt myself transported into a magical landscape that is home to Alice in her formative years.

Ringland tells her story in three quite distinctive parts: one of Alice as a child, from early childhood to the tragedy that will cost her parents’ lives; one of her years of growing up in Thornfeld, the lush wildflower farm that has been home to generations of Hart women; and one of Alice as an adult woman, trying to find her own path in life. I admit that I was most invested in the chapters set at Thornfeld, partly due to its enchanted setting, but also because I found the story of Thornfeld’s women intriguing. The idea of generations of women passing on the secret language of the flowers they are surrounded by was interesting and strangely touching, especially as we learn of each individual woman’s fate, their friendships and the way they looked out for one another in the sanctuary of Thornfeld. I could have happily remained in Thornfeld for the entirety of the story! I admit that my interest waned slightly in the later part of the book, despite its unique desert setting, but I felt that the initial thread of the “language of flowers” got a bit lost here, with more focus on Alice’s struggle with relationships. After becoming so enchanted with Thornfeld and its women, I felt I wanted to read more about them and their lives, and would have liked to see a resolution in the relationship dynamics uncovered in their stories. 

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a touching coming of age story featuring three very unique and stunning Australian locations that will enchant readers from all over the world. Spanning twenty years of Alice’s life, the story will appeal to readers who enjoy saga novels in atmospheric, exotic places – this is armchair travel of the best kind! I look forward to reading more from this author in future.
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Wow this book blew me away, it was full of heart, love, pain, loss, betrayal and hope. As each chapter of Alice's life is played out the setting changes with it. As a child by the ocean in an abusive family life, to growing up surrounded by the language of flowers and the women who support her, then to running away to find freedom and learn who she is in Australia's central desert, this story travels full circle. Can you run from your past, how much does it influence who we turn out to be, can you forge ahead and make a new you. I wish I could do this book justice with my review.

Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Australia for a copy in return for an honest review.
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https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2344249659?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1
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A beautiful story that will tug at the heart strings and remain with you for quite a while after finishing.  Quite a slow beginning but definitely needs to be so you can fully understand the whole story.  I felt myself questioning the motives of Alice's grandmother, really wondering if she was doing everything for Alice or herself.  Every word written keeps you enthralled and they are so vivid you can immerse yourself in the lives of the characters.

I found myself wanting to push Alice into making decisions earlier for herself and wonder what her life would have really been like had she been given the opportunity to stay with Sally, even though she loved the Flowers and the life her grandmother gave her, she also missed out on so much more because of it.

I cannot recommend this book more highly, the descriptions and explanations of all the flowers and their healing properties is so significant to the story, the landscapes painted for you to imagine the beauty of Australia and it's native flora and land makes you appreciate how the writer has wound everything together to leave you with an ending that I certainly didn't expect.

A heart warming family drama that is worthy of more than five stars and a book I will certainly revisit some time in the future.

Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins Publishers Australia for the opportunity to read and give an honest recommentaion of this book.
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