Esther takes her foot off the accelerator and slows down to admire the sun turning the sea gold. This had been Aura’s, her elder sister’s favourite time of year. March, this time one year ago she walked into the sea disappearing into the same golden waves.
The tragic loss of Aura finds Esther and her family struggling to move on. Esther especially finds it hard to understand what happened to her sister. They used to be inseparable, more twins than sisters. Aura dropped out of university and travelled to the Faroe Islands where she lived for three years before returning. It was only a year ago that Aura disappeared, but to Esther it feels like she disappeared from her life long before that.
Esther has closed herself off and repressed thoughts and memories of her sister, her method of dealing with the pain and loss. However, her parents convince her to travel to the islands and try to find out what happened. Why Aura came back a different, broken shadow of herself.
Travelling down the length of Aura’s spine were seven tattoos, each one an enigmatic verse. The tattoos appear to tell the story, or some fantastical version of Aura’s life.
On the Faroe Islands Esther slowly starts to piece together the puzzle of Aura’s life and why she felt the need to end it. As the novel unfolds Esther finds out more and more about Aura’s life, and the tattoos start to form a semblance of meaning.
I loved this novel. From slowly learning about Aura while experiencing the heartbreak and devastation her loss inflicts on Esther. The sisters are great characters. Aura, although passed, feels alive and is very much as important a character as Esther. Esther in her search for meaning and closure to Aura’s actions, finds hidden truths about herself and family.
This is a novel about relationships between siblings and family. It is also about perception and secrets. How many times we keep our pain to ourselves, sometimes from the loved ones who would share that pain, ease the burden. It is about grief and how easily and quickly it can consume if not dealt with. I guess what I took away from this brilliant novel is that tragedies happen, there are many happening as I write, but we cannot change that. What we can change is how we deal with the tragedies, not let them consume us, but with time wash over us. You never really get over a tragedy, but you must learn to live with it and move on with life for it will not stop for you.
When a novel can make you stop and think about life like this, it is normally something special and this novel is indeed something special.
HOLLY RINGLAND grew up in her mother's tropical garden on the east coast of Australia. When she was nine years old, her love of landscapes, cultures and stories was deepened by a two-year journey her family took in North America, living in a camper van and travelling from one national park to another.
In her early twenties, Holly worked for four years in a remote Indigenous community in Australia’s western desert. Moving to England in 2009, Holly obtained her MA in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester in 2011.
After wanting to be a writer since she was three years old, Holly’s debut novel The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart was published in 2018 when she was 37 years old, and has since become an international bestseller. Publication rights have sold in 30 territories. In May 2019, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart won The Australian Book Industry Award General Fiction Book of the Year.
Video from HarperCollins
MY RATING -