Holly Ringland – The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart

Fourth Estate, an imprint of Harper Collins, 2018

This is Holly Ringland’s debut novel and a beautiful book inside and out. The gaspingly fabulous book cover and internal design is by Hazel Lam using the drawings of Edith Rewa Barrett – and it is this that immediately grabbed my attention in the bookshop displays.

Of course, the cover points us to the content – a story of loss and painful discovery, an emotional life expressed to some degree in the language of flowers. Alice Hart begins her life in the shadow of domestic violence and this relentlessly enfolds her as we follow her to young womanhood. The long shadow of inter-generational violence is the over-arching theme for the story.

However, Holly Ringland also speaks of the significance of country, of place, of courage, of healing and the possibility of release. Without spoiling the reader’s experience let me say that the notion of expiation through fire is a repeating motif. And we are left with a sense of hopefulness by this story and its strong women.

And please do read the author’s note and acknowledgements at the end of the book – they are instructive.

  • Hear Barbie’s interview with Holly Ringland.