About The Book
YOU’LL NEVER FORGET THE FLOWER GIRLS
The Flower Girls. Laurel and Primrose.
One convicted of murder, the other given a new identity.
Now, nineteen years later, another child has gone missing.
And the Flower Girls are about to hit the headlines all over again…
The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts is an intelligent, emotive and compelling thriller which examines a child murder, a new identity and the fall-out when that identity is revealed. A study of power, family and crossing the line, it is unputdownable and a brave and emotive read.
In 1997, ten year old Laurel was arrested and convicted of the murder of toddler Kirstie and she has been in the prison system every since. Her sister, Primrose (Rosie) was six at the time and although she was with Laurel the day that Kirstie died she was too young to stand trial. She and their parents were subsequently given new identities and moved to a town ‘somewhere between Newcastle and Berwick’ to start their lives again. In the present day a toddler goes missing on New Year’s Eve at a hotel on the Devonshire coast and Hazel, formerly Primrose, just happens to be a guest at that hotel. The Flower Girls, as Laurel and Primrose were known, suddenly become headline news again and old wounds are re-opened.
This is a compelling page turner of a book with a pervading sense of unease running through it. I was struck by the way that Alice Clark-Platts was able to weave a narrative that was oozing with ominous threat and dark deeds yet contained characters that were believable and realistic and dare I say it, elicited sympathy from me.
Laurel is a spectre, a looming presence and it takes a little while for us to meet her as an adult. Her parents and sister have completely abandoned her and the only family member she has contact with is her uncle who is also her lawyer. I found that I was almost fearful of meeting her and was unsure of what I would find. What sort of evil was I going to find? She had become a monstrous human being in my head – what else could she be if she murdered a child?
I loved the contrast between child Laurel and Rosie and adult Laurel and Hazel, the innocence and naivety comparing nicely with the vastly different lives they are leading. For instance, Hazel has settled into a relationship with a man who knows about her past and she is building a relationship with his teenage daughter, Evie. Laurel on the other hand is facing the parole board again and a campaign group named Bang to Rights are pushing for her to stay behind bars.
The disappearance of the child in Devon brings Hazel’s anonymity crashing down around her and she is faced with the press hounding her every move and her face on the front page of newspapers. Social media adds to the tension and pressure and this combined with the subject matter made the book an uncomfortable read at times. But it was the good kind of uncomfortable, it made me think and pushed boundaries with its clever writing.
Saying that though, some people may struggle with parts of the subject matter. It describes the death of a young child and is reminiscent of Jamie Bulger’s death (in fact this and the Soham murders are referenced in the book) but I found the psychology and examination of the after effects fascinating. The way this book unravels, the twists and turns it takes whilst remaining sensitive to the subject matter is wonderful and I found it a thrilling, unsettling and compelling read. It is one of those books that you just have to talk about and I predict big things.