The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart
Written by Holly Ringland
An enchanting and captivating novel about how our untold stories haunt us — and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive.
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 grows up increasingly frustrated by how little she knows of her family’s story. In her early twenties, Alice’s life is thrown into upheaval again when she suffers devastating betrayal and loss. 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.
HOLLY RINGLAND grew up wild and barefoot in her mother’s tropical garden in Northern Australia. When she was nine years old, her family lived in a camper van for two years in North America, travelling from one national park to another, an experience that sparked Holly’s lifelong interest in cultures and stories. In her twenties, Holly worked for four years in a remote Indigenous community in the central Australian desert. She moved to England in 2009 and obtained her MA in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester in 2011. She now lives between the UK and Australia, and is in the final year of her creative writing Ph.D. with Griffith University and King’s College London. Her Ph.D. project examines how traumatic experience can be reformed through the creative writing process. Holly’s essays and short fiction have been published in various anthologies and literary journals. In 2015, the first chapter of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart (then called The Centre is Red) won Griffith Review’s annual writer award, which included a weeklong fellowship at Varuna House, Australia’s prestigious writing residency.
“The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a book that glows — in the fire and heart of it; in the wonder and hope of it. Holly Ringland is a gifted, natural storyteller and her novel — about finding magic in the dark; about the power of freedom and the freedom of story — is
truly a light-giving, tender thing. A vivid, compelling, utterly moving debut.” — Brooke Davis, author of international bestseller Lost & Found, winner of 2015 ABIA Fiction Book of the Year
“Not everyone who visits the central Australian desert understands the landscape of it. Holly Ringland does and shares her heart instincts in this epic telling. Each page arrives to us like the first flight of the butterfly from its cocoon. The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a literary gift.” — Ali Cobby Eckermann, Yankunytjatjara poet, 2017 Windham-Campbell winner.
“This novel shines with courage, with heart, and with love. Infused with a tender ferocity, and the beauty and warmth of native flowers, it invokes great stories of loss, kindness and home.” — Ashley Hay, author of The Railwayman’s Wife, winner of the 2013 Colin Roderick Award.
“An astonishingly assured debut, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a story of love, loss, betrayal, and the redemptive power of storytelling, set in the blazing heat and ancient mythic landscape of Australia’s Red Centre. Written with intelligence, grace, and sensitivity, Holly Ringland’s novel is both heartbreaking and life-affirming, following the journey of her heroine Alice as she discovers the strength of spirit to break the patterns of violence of her past.” — Kate Forsyth, author of Bitter Greens, 2015 winner American Library Association award for Best Historical Fiction.
“I loved this brave and beautiful book. Alice Hart has the strength and magic of an Australian wildflower in bloom.” — Favel Parrett, author of When the Night Comes and Past the Shallows, finalist 2012 Miles Franklin Literary Award.
“A complex, literary debut that examines the dangerously fine line between care and control, sanctuary and prison. Holly’s writing is rich, vibrant and alive with the messy, sometimes violent song of human connection. She is a writer to watch out for.” — Jenn Ashworth, author of Fell, winner of The Society of Authors 2010 Betty Trask Award.
“The best fairy tales traverse the darkest corners of the human heart, and this beautiful novel is no exception. Truth and illusion, devastation and triumph, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart will spit you out whole.” — Myfanwy Jones, author of Leap, finalist for the 2016 Miles Franklin Literary Award.