The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart (Holly Ringland, Fourth Estate)
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a lush, powerful contemporary novel from debut author Holly Ringland. It revolves around Alice, who we first meet as an isolated young girl living by the sea with a violent father and an unwell mother. When tragedy strikes, a teenage Alice is sent to live on a flower farm run by a group of women, including her estranged grandmother. There, she grapples with her family’s secrets and learns more about the women who have suffered and endured throughout the farm’s history. As Alice enters adulthood, a past betrayal forces her to flee to the central Australian desert, a dazzling landscape, where she meets a man who is as dangerous as he is charming. 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. Ringland’s decision to preface each chapter with a flower and its emotional significance is deftly handled, creating a thematic through-line that underscores and enhances the story. 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.
Claire West is a book buyer for independent and chain bookstores