Spoilers ahead for The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart. Holly Ringland’s best-selling novel, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, begins with the titular character having a dark vision. “I knew when I read the first page about a nine-year-old Alice Hart sitting at the end of a laneway dreaming of ways to set her father on fire, that I had to bring this to the screen,” Sarah Lambert, who adapted the book for Prime Video’s new series of the same name, recently explained to Harper’s Bazaar. “It was one of the best opening lines I had ever read.”
Spanning decades, the seven-part drama series adheres to the book’s general arc, dedicating the first three episodes, which premiere on Aug. 4, to Alice’s upbringing in Australia. The back half of the miniseries, which focuses on the events of Alice’s twenties, drops in weekly installments until the Sept. 1 series finale, though. The show stars Sigourney Weaver and Alycia Debnam-Carey, among others. Here’s a summary of Ringland’s The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart novel for fans who want to “read ahead,” so to speak, or simply find the differences and similarities.
According to the author’s website, nine-year-old Alice Hart lives in isolation by the sea with her flower-loving mother, Agnes, and her abusive father, Clem. Though Agnes, who is expecting another child, plans on leaving her husband, she never follows through. Meanwhile, Alice has visions of setting Clem ablaze, and one day a fire at their family home results in her parents’ deaths. Afterward, she is taken in by her paternal 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.”
Alice settles with June and the other women (aka “flowers”) who are abuse survivors, but as she grows up, she becomes increasingly frustrated by the secrecy shrouding her family history. In her early twenties, Alice’s life is “thrown into upheaval again when she suffers devastating betrayal and loss.” Among the painful revelations she overhears one night included that June had her love Oggi deported back to Bulgaria to “save” Alice from a stolen future and broken heart. Desperate to outrun grief, Alice flees to the central Australian desert where she meets a charismatic and ultimately dangerous man named Dylan.
Meanwhile, June dies of a heart attack while waiting for Alice to come home, but leaves her granddaughter the Thornfield dictionary in her will. Longtime residents Candy and Twig explain to Alice that June had seen how possessive and aggressive Clem had been to her mother and the other women, and decided not to leave the family farm to him. That’s why he left Thornfield with her mother, vowing never to speak to June again. What’s more, they reveal that Alice’s brother was born prematurely but survived the fire, decades earlier. However, June left him behind at the hospital because she worried about caring for a sick newborn and didn’t want to put Alice through more grief if he didn’t survive.
Eventually, Alice travels back home to find the local librarian, Sally Morgan, whom her mother named as guardian, should June “not be fit” to raise her children. Sally explains that she fell in love with and had an affair with Clem when she was 18, resulting in the birth of their daughter, Gillian (aka Gilly), who died from leukemia when she was five years old. Though Sally had sent her letters over the years, June did not want Alice to have any contact with her or her brother, Charlie, who was almost 20 years old at that point.
After meeting Charlie, Alice later takes him to Thornfield, where she can’t imagine life without him. In the end, Alice learns that “the most powerful story she will ever possess is her own.”