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The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart book review

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland was my first read for 2020.

The premise (from Harper Collins website):

"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 in her twenties, 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."

Alice didn't win me over at first, and I struggled to sink into the voice and style of storytelling. Could these flowers be weeds dressed up as roses?

But then, ooh those flowers intoxicated me good. The setting moved to a flower farm and then the middle of the desert and then back to the sparkling coast, and I was swept away by this vivid and transformative tale. I immensely enjoyed the various Australian settings and the sense of magic hovering over everything. Alice Hart is a book about loss and forgiveness and hope, but what I enjoyed most was the deep, luscious, bodily sense of everything coming back to a connection with the earth.

The main characters I never fully warmed to (although you do always want them to claw their way out of darkness and back to the light), but the secondary characters were a motley, familiar crew that brought great warmth to the story.

Some of the scene-setting and landscape descriptions - and the reverence conveyed in these - were to die for.

What I appreciated most of all is the idea that landscapes and nature and animals can heal, can connect us and be the grounding and support that we need, and also a way to understand ourselves.

Would purchase this bouquet at the florist.

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