Aussie Author Challenge Australian Women Writers Book Reviews

Book Review: The lost flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland #AWW2018

lost flowers of alice hart

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.

Thus begins debut author Holly Ringland’s book. That powerful first line sets the scene of all that is to come. Alice Hart lives with her parents; a mother who appears to be fading away, and a father who is good with his fists just as he is with his hands. Clem Hart is known for violent outbursts that include throwing a puppy against a washing machine and constantly leaving bruises on his wife while terrorising Alice.

After Alice barely survives a family tragedy, she is taken in by her paternal grandmother, June away from the coast that she knows to a completely new environment in the middle of the country. June is a flower farmer and teaches Alice, who has lost her voice due to the trauma, the language of Australian native flowers. June, who was estranged from Clem, is struggling with her own demons and copes by gardening and drinking. Her place is a sanctuary for women who have traumatic histories of their own and through the language of flowers, find ways to heal.

As Alice grows up on the farm, she continues to long for the coast. She also longs to know more about her family but June has secrets she isn’t ready to reveal. And sometimes, our past relationships create templates for our future ones.

This is a beautifully written debut novel that evokes the right feelings in all the right places. Alice’s journey from a young girl to a grown woman is easy to follow and understand and you empathise with her the entire way. While frustrating, you also understand why June is the way she is. There are some issues with the way in which the family keeps secrets but then again, that’s something common to most families. The manner in which Alice’s relationships with others were portrayed and especially the domestic violence, was exceptionally written with so much heart and emotion. It got to a point where I needed to know how things would go and felt a heaviness in my chest.

Ringland’s prose, her characters and her portrayal of events is extremely well done. There is also a great sense of place and of course, knowledge of native flowers and what they represent. This is a book filled with a lot of heart by an author who has had the courage to own her story.

My rating:

{I’d love to give 4.5 stars}

Where to find the author:

Website | Instagram | Twitter

***Read and reviewed for the 2018 Aussie Author Challenge and the Australian Women Writers’ Challenge. Also linking up with Denyse for Life this week and Alicia for Open Slather***

Until next time,

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  • Jo Tracey
    5 June 2018 at 12:36 pm

    I’ve seen this one around & was attracted to the cover, so thanks for the review. As an aside, aren’t there some lines you just wish that you write? Like that opening line. Flipping. Fabulous.

  • Shailaja Vishwanath
    5 June 2018 at 2:33 pm

    Rather gripping storyline, especially if that opening line is anything to go by. I would be interested to know how this develops and whether it has multiple points of view or just the one from Alice. Not that it matters. Am just curious.

    A 4 star rating and you say the prose is good. This one is worth bookmarking then. Thanks, Sanch.
    Shailaja Vishwanath recently posted…Firgun: A Beautiful QualityMy Profile

  • Denyse
    5 June 2018 at 5:28 pm

    I too have been attracted by the book’s cover but I tend to be turned off the subjects like this. I managed to listen to Eleanor Oliphant twice so maybe, I could consider this book too.
    Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek 23/52.
    Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 24/52. The M-Z of Me. 11/6/18.
    Denyse x

    • Sanch @ Sanch Writes
      7 June 2018 at 10:04 pm

      I, on the other hand, read a lot of fiction that has heavy material. Plus, I knew I had to read this after seeing the author speak at one of our local libraries!

  • Suger
    6 June 2018 at 12:26 pm

    That’s one heck of an opening line! Fours stars, huh? Adding to the list!

  • shalzmojo
    6 June 2018 at 6:28 pm

    wow! brilliantly reviewed Sanch. I just love the books you come up with to read and review- I have gotten to know more new authors from your blog than any other – this one sounds like a sure read; book marking it!

  • Soumya
    8 June 2018 at 5:10 pm

    I know we should never judge a book by its cover, but look at how pretty this one is!

    The opening line is brilliant and somehow stories about dysfunctional relationships and childhood is spoken with real clarity these days and that is why they make for such good, honest reads. I would definitely be picking this up!

    Thank you for introducing me to another wonderful female author!
    Soumya recently posted…In Conversation With The Veeres #NotAMovieReviewMy Profile

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