The Secret Book of Flora Lea
'A magical read! Combining a WWII narrative, a book of fairytales and a swinging Sixties storyline is an absolute masterstroke and Patti Callahan Henry weaves all her threads expertly together. Sit back and lose yourself in both the mystery of the missing sister and the enchantment of Whisperwood in this truly atmospheric tale.'
—Natasha Lester, international bestselling author of The Three Lives of Alix St Pierrewo
After two young sisters evacuate London to live with strangers in the English countryside as part of Operation Pied Piper during World War II, the younger goes missing and is presumed drowned until 20 years later when the older sister, who works in a London rare book shop, receives a children’s book based on the secret fairy tale only the sisters shared.
“[M]agical… An enchanting tribute to the
power of storytelling."
"Not very long ago and not very far away, there once was and still is an invisible place right here with us. And if you are born knowing, you will find your way through the woodlands to the shimmering doors that lead to the land made just and exactly for you." —HAZEL MERSEY LINDEN, 1939.
A missing sister, a mysterious fairy tale, The River Thames, and a lost love.
In the war-torn London of 1939, fourteen-year-old Hazel and five-year-old Flora are evacuated from their London home to a rural village to escape the horrors of the Second World War. Living with the kind Bridie Aberdeen and her teenage son, Harry, in a charming stone cottage along the River Thames, Hazel fills their days with walks and games to distract her young sister, including one that she creates for her sister and her sister alone— a fairy tale about a magical land, a secret place they can escape to that is all their own.
But the unthinkable happens when young Flora suddenly vanishes while playing near the banks of the river. Shattered, Hazel blames herself for her sister’s disappearance, and she carries that guilt into adulthood as a private burden she feels she deserves.
Twenty years later, Hazel is in London, ready to move on from her job at a cozy rare bookstore to a career at Sotheby’s. With a charming boyfriend and her elegantly dilapidated Bloomsbury flat, Hazel’s future seems determined. But her tidy life is turned upside down when she unwraps a package containing an illustrated book called Whisperwood and the River of Stars. Hazel never told a soul about the imaginary world she created just for Flora. Could this book hold the secrets to Flora’s disappearance? Could it be a sign that her beloved sister is still alive after all these years?
As Hazel embarks on a feverish quest, revisiting long-dormant relationships and bravely opening wounds from her past, her career and future hang in the balance. An astonishing twist ultimately reveals the truth in this transporting and refreshingly original novel about the bond between sisters, the complications of conflicted love, and the enduring magic of storytelling.
'A delicious mystery, woven with sparkling prose and wit.'
—Josephine Moon, author of The Jam Queens
'A beautiful blend of love and mystery, The Secret Book of Flora Lea is captivating from the first page. Intriguing, atmospheric, rich in detail, it will break your heart and warm it at the same time. Definitely a book for book lovers; you’ll want to race through the pages but linger over the beautiful descriptions and superbly rendered characters. I loved it.’
—Belinda Alexandra, author of The French Agent
“[A]ffecting… Henry’s offering shines most in its exploration of the ways relationships grow and adapt to time and trauma, making for a poignant meditation on the bonds of sisterhood. This captivates.”
A New York Times Bestselling Author
Co-creator and co-host of the weekly web show and podcast
Friends & Fiction
Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sixteen novels and podcast host. She is the recipient of The Christy Award 2019 Winner “Book of the Year”; The Harper Lee Distinguished Writer of the Year for 2020 and the Alabama Library Association Book of the Year for 2019. She is the co-host and co-creator of the popular weekly online Friends and Fiction live web show and podcast. A full-time author, mother of three, and grandmother of two, she lives in Mountain Brook, Alabama with her husband, Pat Henry. Her newest novel, The Secret Book of Flora Lea, is set outside Oxford in the hamlet of Binsey and will be released on May 2nd, 2023 with Simon & Schuster Atria. The Australian Edition will be released on May 3rd, 2023 with HarperCollins Australia.