Not so much a bestseller as a publishing phenomenon, Australian novel The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart was an instant smash when it hit shelves a few years back. Acclaimed by readers here and across the globe, the story follows Alice, a young girl who finds her life upended when a fire claims the life of her troubled parents as she’s relocated several towns away to live with a grandmother she never knew.
Now it’s been adapted into a highly-anticipated limited series on Prime Video. Whether you’re coming to the story fresh or you’ve read the novel – and if you have, you’ll find a few surprises – the seven episodes are gripping viewing. Here are five reasons you won’t want to miss it.
Australian author Holly Ringland based Alice’s life in part on her own experiences, though in interviews she’s stressed that this is a work of fiction, not a memoir. What she’s written is a woman’s deeply emotional journey that looks at cycles of abuse and the struggle to break free, beginning with Alice’s fractured home life and extending across decades. Rendered non-verbal after her family tragedy, Alice slowly begins to recover at her grandmother’s flower farm, Thornfield, surrounded by the other women who’ve found refuge there. But the cycle of abuse is hard to break. Years later, when Alice leaves the farm to work as a desert guide, her dream relationship becomes increasingly nightmarish, forcing her to reclaim the strength from her past to forge a new future.
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It stars Sigourney Weaver
You know you’re in for something special when you see Sigourney Weaver’s name in the cast. Over a career stretching back 40 years, the Hollywood star has made her name playing tough, resilient women, whether fighting aliens or fending off regular earth-bound creeps. Here she’s playing June, Alice’s grandmother and the matriarch in charge of Thornfield. She’s a powerful figure with a few secrets of her own, and all of Weaver’s formidable skills are on display as she brings her to life.
There’s a strong supporting cast
The big names keep on coming once you start looking down the cast list. Aussie Asher Keddie (best known for her leading role in Offspring) is Sally, the headstrong librarian who wants to take Alice under her wing for reasons of her own. Multi-hyphenate actor, writer, producer and director Leah Purcell is Twig, June’s partner, and one of the women now living at Thornfield after a horrific past. Playing the grown Alice is Alycia Debnam-Carey, best known as the female lead on Fear the Walking Dead, while her younger self is played by Alyla Browne, previously cast as the younger version of Tilda Swinton's character in George Miller’s Three Thousand Years of Longing.
There are stunning locations
Author Holly Ringland spent a number of years working as a media officer at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory, and Australia’s desert landscape is central to the novel’s appeal. But while later episodes were filmed around Alice Springs, much of the earlier story is told at Thornfield, which looks almost too good to believe. (Upon seeing the house, Weaver reportedly told the director, “Everyone’s going to think this is all CGI”.) Thornfield is an oasis for those who live there, and that comes through every time they step outside. Surrounded by meadows and gardens of stunning wildflowers, it’s the kind of setting that’s hard to forget. The house itself is in the town of Scone in New South Wales (some of the farm scenes were shot elsewhere) – a wave of tourists seems inevitable.
It’s a story with heart – and flowers
A major theme of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is how people use stories to help reclaim their lives. Their imagination enables them to see beyond the violence that’s been inflicted upon them, to tell a new story about themselves. And for Alice, that story is intertwined with the flowers grown at Thornfield, so much so that she uses the language of flowers to say the things words can’t. It's a whole new meaning to “say it with flowers”.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Prime Video. The first three episodes of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart are now streaming on Prime Video with new episodes dropping on Fridays, a 30-day free trial is available for new subscribers.