Streaming platforms are racing to adapt as many books as they can to the screen. Is this a way of playing it safe by betting on tried and tested content, or is it the result of the Writers’ Guild strike that is not allowing the brains to come together for the production of more original content? Either way, we have chosen to be selective about our complaints regarding book-to-screen adaptations because we would never have noticed some truly astounding stories if not for this. We have not read Holly Ringwald’s The Lost Flowers Of Alice Hart, but we plan to. In the meantime, each and every review that we have read of the book speaks highly of it. Going by that, as we watched the first episode of the series based on the book, we found it to have focused heavily on the atmosphere building, and to its credit, it is well done. Therefore, let us find out, through this recap, what seems to be in store for Alice Hart.
What happens to Alice’s parents?
The painting of an idyllic family living happily in a remote area is quickly dashed to the ground in the first two to three minutes of episode 1 of The Lost Flowers Of Alice Hart when we spot the bruises on Agnes Hart’s arms. She is heavily pregnant and spends all her time taking care of her plants and the house. Her husband, who is the abusive man of the house, is a wood carver, and he has gone out for a few days. Alice asks Agnes to take her into town, which is a walkable distance from the house, but the fear on her mother’s face at this suggestion is too evident. But she agrees to take her daughter to the library and get her some Lamington cakes. However, the next day, Agnes is unable to get out of bed at all and is silently crying into the sheets.
We suspect that Agnes is depressed, and this is not the first time that Alice has seen something like this because she did not try to pester her mother to get up or do something. The fact that she had brought breakfast in bed for her mother indicates that Alice occasionally took on the role of a caregiver, and she knew that the best way to deal with the situation was to let it be. However, she still leaves for the town and goes to the library, where the librarian, Sally, is surprised to see her in her night dress. Nevertheless, she gives her some tea, a library card, and a few books to keep her occupied. But Alice is forced to leave when she hears Sally speaking to someone about the state she is in and the bruises on her arms.
When Alice goes back home, she finds her father telling someone, likely the police, that she is back and safe. Agnes warns Alice to run, but the suggestion is a second too late, and Clen hurts his daughter for her recklessness. When the police officer, John, arrives the next day to check on Alice, he seems to understand that Alice and Agnes are being abused by Clen, but there is nothing he can do about it. It is classic manipulation that makes the abuse victims think that their suffering is their fault and an indication of the other person’s weakness that they must care for. It looks like Agnes and Alice had planned on running away from home, but Agnes got pregnant, and the plan was derailed. This could be why Agnes started being so depressed, or perhaps it started before that.
One day, when Alice is alone at home, she accidentally starts a fire in the shed by knocking over the lantern. Her parents have just returned home, and she runs out in panic to her room and covers herself with a blanket. Since the fire had just started and adults were around, we are speculating that it was put out immediately by them. But the next news we hear is that Clen is dead, Agnes has suffered major burn injuries, and Alice has a few broken bones and is in a coma. The investigating officer later says that there were two fires, and the one in Alice’s bedroom is what killed Clen. He did not say whether Alice and Agnes were also victims of that, but we can deduce from his words that they suffered from the fire in the shed. It just means that a lot of things happened after Alice ran out of the shed that day, and only time will tell us what they are.
In the hospital, Clen arrives dead, while Agnes passes away in a few hours. Sally and John step in to take care of the family because Clen’s estranged mother, June Hart, refuses to have anything to do with the child and her family. When she learns that Agnes’ baby was born premature and has very little hope for survival, all she does is nod and leave. But she is not as cold-hearted as Sally has started to believe, and the moment June gets home, she breaks down in front of Twig, her longtime partner. June is Alice’s next of kin, but she wants to keep the kid away from the family, saying that it would be better for her.
Does Alice Go To Live With June?
Sally is all set to bring Alice back to her house, and we can see that she has a maternal attachment to the child. Even June agrees to let Alice live with Sally, but that changes when she finds Alice outside her house, ready to faint. Alice has been in a coma following her ordeal, and when she finally wakes up due to what can only be attributed to Sally’s love and care, she is unable to speak. She is in tears when she realizes that her parents have passed away.
In a dazed state, she tries walking to her house but faints on the way, which is when June finds her and decides to take her home as her next of kin. We don’t think she did it because she thought Sally or someone else wasn’t being responsible. June made that choice because she saw something of what Alice was suffering from and probably believed that she could protect her from it. Maybe she spotted the generational trauma, or she just wanted to help her as a family, and June decided that Alice would live with her. Since she hadn’t signed any agreement letting Sally take her back, June had every right to take Alice to her place. Sally had no choice but to ask her to take care of the child in whatever way she could.
At the end of episode 1 of The Lost Flowers Of Alice Hart, we see that June promises to keep Alice safe from harm and then proceeds to guard the property with a rifle in her hand. Elsewhere, Sally learns that she had been appointed Alice’s guardian four months before by Agnes in case June did not want to take care of her grandchild if anything happened to Alice’s parents. This meant that Sally had the right to take Alice away from June and let her live with her. As the episode ends, Sally looks at a wood carving of a girl reading a book that was hidden in her attic. We know that the woodcarver in that town was Clen. Unless Agnes also knew the craft, should we assume that Clen and Sally were having an affair? He seemed connected to another woman named Candy in Thornfield, sharing a similar mark on her palm. Maybe there was another connection like that with Sally?
As we said, this episode is all about atmosphere building. The pieces it has laid out are rather interesting, and we certainly want to know what is in store for Alice Hart. Sally’s attachment to her has felt a little too much to us, but we are sure there is a reasonable explanation for it. Only the future storyline will tell the rest.