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.
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.
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a story about stories: those we inherit, those we select to define us, and those we decide to hide. It is a novel about the secrets we keep and how they haunt us, and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive. Spanning twenty years, set between the lush sugar cane fields by the sea, a native Australian flower farm, and a celestial crater in the central desert, Alice must go on a journey to discover that the most powerful story she will ever possess is her own.
This book is about Alice who, as a child grows up in a family where she constantly faces abuse and watches her mom and dog get abused by her father. Her father, neglecting his family has a twisted past of his own which unravels on its own throughout the book, revealing more characters. The story is set in Australia, native to the author. The setting makes the story exciting and fitting. It is quite soothing to imagine yourself near seaside, flower fields and a vast red desert all in one book.
The writing style is simple, formal yet poetic which makes it so much more beautiful. It is descriptive yet not unnecessary.
The writing quality is coherent and clear. The story unfolds itself in a fluid manner. One thing that I loved about this book is that the feelings in the story were described so vividly and accurately. It helped me to empathize with the characters, especially the protagonist. which I think, is the most essential element in any book. Unlike the overused phrases such as “she shed tears/ cried in pain or agony” for sadness, the author describes sadness as an “inability to breathe” when Alice was overwhelmed with grief which I thought was accurate, realistic and relatable.
“The burden of her unrealized dreams hung heavily from her rib bones, flattened by the weight of her sighs. She imagined them like pressed flowers, each one squashed while it was still blooming.” – Holly Ringland
When I was reading the book, 100 pages in, I was trying to connect the dots with the hints thrown at me with the language of flowers. Every chapter begins with a description of a native Australian flower (Violet night shade, Vanilla Lily etc.) which felt like figurative description of the characters. It was like a puzzle that I kept on trying to solve and in the end, it all made sense. And I was like – “Whoa. I get it now.”
Absolutely amazing use of figurative language which heightened the effect of the emotions I felt while reading the book. I loved how the author used metaphors and imagery throughout the book.
“Alice tried to breathe more deeply, as if she might inhale the space, as if she might create a similar kind of vastness inside herself.” – Holly Ringland
“All under the upturned bowl of endless blue sky.” – Holly Ringland.
I loved the characters and there was brilliant development provided to each one. I loved how the author wrote the dogs’ characters. I was rooting for Pip, Toby and Harry all throughout the book more than any other character.
For a debut novel, this book was extraordinary but one thing that irked me about the book was how Alice and her life at Agnes Bluff flows so smoothly. For someone so inexperienced and naive about the real world, it felt very unrealistic that Alice didn’t get scammed or cheated. She gets a job just like that which felt very unrealistic. There were many moments which I found cliched and cheesy. But apart from that, the book was amazing and brilliantly written.
The plot was unique and had a very thrilling story-line which, I think, has the ability to keep the reader hooked. Every chapter ends with a surprise element and it never stops being entertaining.
The pace of the book is average, neither slow nor too fast but towards the end (last few chapters), it just gets un-put-downable. I didn’t realize that I was turning pages towards the end.
The book made me realize how essential it is to communicate, before it is too late.
I, personally loved reading this book.
Would I recommend? Yes. Yes. Yes.
Thank you, PanMacmillan India for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.