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patti callahan henry
From the New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis comes a “heartrending, captivating tale of family, first love, and fate” (Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author) about a woman who stumbles across a mysterious children’s book that holds secrets about her missing sister and their childhood spent in the English countryside during World War II.
The Secret Book of Flora Lea
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.
"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.
"Deft, lyrical and supremely satisfying, The Secret Book of Flora Lea isn’t so much a departure for Patti Callahan Henry as it is a culmination of her gifts as a novelist. This is a book about difficult history and unsinkable hope, ordinary magic in the form of love, and about how our stories can save and sustain us in the most trying moments of our lives. Callahan’s plot will keep you guessing even as her characters steal your heart. I loved it!
—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and When the Stars Go Dark
“[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 world war and a fairy tale collide in the British countryside in 1940 — and Patti Callahan Henry is the perfect novelist to explore how the living is forever changed. The Secret Book of Flora Lea is a treasure: moving, surprising, and deeply evocative of an England that every day walked the tightrope between heartbreak and hope.”
— Chris Bohjalian, #1 New York Times bestselling author
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 is available now with Simon & Schuster Canada.