venerdì 17 luglio 2020

Review: The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart

Published: 19th March 2018
Publisher: Harper Collins AU
Number of pages: 375
Format: Hardback
Source: Gifted
Purchase: Amazon, TBD

From Goodreads:
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.

My Review

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart was one of those books that I've been wanting to read badly. Still, I had it sitting on my shelf for a long time. It was one of the Belletrist book club's pick and a book that one of my best friends loved deeply, so no point in telling you how high my expectations for this one were.
For so many aspects, it is impossible not to like this book. The author's style is fantastic, her evoking ability unique and the magical world she created irresistible. But I honestly expected more from this.

Pros: there are a lot of pros. As I said, Ringland's writing style is delicious and her descriptions of places and characters are just so accurate. You grow fond of each and every character she introduces and you feel tempted by every scenario she presents. I really admire works like this one because it is clear that there is a lot of effort put into it. I was surprised to aknowledge that the places mentioned in this book were fictional because they are described so vividly that I honestly thought to visit them one day. 

Another huge pro is definitely the whole concept of speaking through flowers: a powerful media of communication that the author offers to her damaged characters. It was heart-warming and touching to see how flowers could do what words couldn't, how through nature the protagonists found the courage to speak they wouldn't have otherwise. Apart from that, I loved how curious this book got me and I found myself costantly looking up online for images of those meaningful, desertic flowers - should I say that most of them didn't look half as poetic as I pictured them to be?!

Cons: well, let's say that expectations aside, from the beginning of the book you get the feeling that you're being introduced to a huge story. To accompany Alice through her personal and emotional growth was certainly central to the story, but while reading, I felt like there were a lot of gaps that in the end had not been filled properly: I'm referring to Alice's parents' history or to a bunch of characters that have been introduced and then basically put aside. 

Another important con, for me, has been Alice's character. I felt an immediate connection with her as a 8 years old girl forced to grow in a violent domestic environment... but when she started to grow, that connection kind of broke. I'm really sensitive when it comes to family matters, having lacked a proper family all my life, so I couldn't stand sometimes how she treated her grandma or how impetuous she was in taking decisions and leaving people behind. When I got to the end of the book I was seriously frustrated with her attitude, but I guess that the major decision she took - if you'll read this book you'll know what I'm referring to - was a precise message of the author to her readers. Still, it irritated me.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. It touches important matters, it is original and deliciously written. But if you're having high expectations as I did, I suggest you to lower them!


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