Agnes dropped to her knees, holding her finger over Alice's lips. Her eyes darted past Alice toward the lounge room where Clem snored softly. It's just us three, Bun, she said. It always has been. Okay?"
What is your saving grace when you are a married woman being beaten by your husband? What do you do when you have a nine year old daughter, Alice and another on the way? When the sound of the car engine outside your home makes you shake, his footsteps, his eyes, his scent; everything about him terrifies you but you are keeping a family secret, one that will devastate those you love. So, out of protective duty and love you stay knowing that you will not live much longer.
For Agnes Hart, her only solace comes when tending her garden. It comes when teaching her nine year old daughter, Alice about flowers i.e. planting them and understanding their symbolism., meaning and hidden secret language.
Immediately, I was drawn to the language of flowers. Being a lover of how the Victorians used it to communicate secretly. However, author, Holly Ringland does something completely different. Not only do the flowers tell a story, hold a family secret but they keep a mother-daughter bond steadfast, even beyond the grave.
I know what it feels like emotionally and physically to lose your mother at a very young age. I understand nine year old Alice's behavior in the way she never leaves her mother's side, the way her eyes follow her everywhere, the ache to want to protect her and save her knowing you can 't. Then for Alice it becomes a lifelong journey of finding herself, while possibly making some of her mother's mistakes. When Alice meets her grandmother she finds a family home, Thornfield and more flowers that become her family.
I really became fascinated with the Thornfield /June chapters that became vital in Alice's story. I could identify with a grandmother stepping in to help raise Alice as well. Holly Ringland has created such complex characters of substance while bringing their scars to the surface making it impossible for me to completely hate Clem or June later on. I found myself longing to stop by Thornfield for some home cooking and flower lessons. I wanted to pull up a chair, pet the dog, chat with the female flowers too!
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a complex family saga unlike any I've read before. I was proud of the woman Alice Hart became; although, I wanted to shake her by the shoulders when she met Dylan.
I can't wait for Holly Ringland's next novel. Her writing is beautiful. She writes a complete story that isn't wrapped up with a pretty bow at the end and I'm relieved for it.