top of page
  • Black Amazon Icon
  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Pinterest Icon
  • YouTube - Black Circle
  • book-bub-icon

Book Review: AU Better Reading



Captivating and Heartbreaking: Read Our Review of The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry


BOOK REVIEW

BETTER READING

May 24, 2023


1939: Fourteen-year-old Hazel and five-year-old Flora are evacuated from London to a rural village to escape the horrors of the Second World War. Living with the Aberdeen family in a charming stone cottage, Hazel distracts her young sister with a fairy tale about a magical land, a secret place they can escape to that is all their own: Whisperwood.


But the unthinkable happens when Flora vanishes near the banks of the River Thames. Shattered, Hazel blames herself for her sister’s disappearance, carrying the guilt into adulthood.


Twenty years later, Hazel is back in London, ready to move on from her job at a cosy rare-book shop for a career at Sotheby’s. With a cherished boyfriend and an upcoming Paris getaway, Hazel’s future seems set. But her tidy life is turned upside down when she unwraps a package containing a picture book called Whisperwood and the River of Stars.


Hazel never told a soul about the storybook 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? Or is something sinister at play?


Patti Callahan Henry is the bestselling author of seventeen novels and the recipient of many awards the Christy Award for Book of the Year, and the Harper Lee Award for Distinguished Writer of the Year. Her long list of accolades is not without merit. Callahan Henry certainly has a knack for delivering captivating and atmospheric page-turners. Her new novel, The Secret Book of Flora Lea, is no exception.



As a huge Callahan Henry fan, I had high expectations for this novel, and they were exceeded beyond compare.


The Secret Book of Flora Lea is about Hazel and Flora, two sisters who evacuated from London to the Oxford countryside as part of the Operation Pied Piper. To keep themselves entertained, the sisters dream up the secretive, imaginative world of Whisperwood. But Flora goes missing one day, and so ensues an enthralling, heart-wrenching story.


As one of four girls in my family, I understand first-hand the special bond between sisters. Hannah and Flora are fully-fleshed, complex characters who you can’t help but be enamoured by. Their extraordinary connection as sisters transcends time and space, and you’ll be rooting for them both collectively and individually.


Part mystery, part fantasy and part historical fiction, Callahan Henry blends these genres seamlessly with fantastic pacing. This is a real page-turner I read it in under 48 hours! – and Callahan Henry balances the dual timelines evenly with a clear flow. There are multi-layered themes of family, coming of age, romance, magic and storytelling, all tied in with an unsolved mystery that pulls on the heartstrings.

Callahan Henry uses WWII as an important backdrop to tell these sisters’ stories, while more broadly shedding light on war and its harrowing effects. The fantasy element is nostalgic with a Terabithia-like story woven throughout; Whisperwood shows innocence and love in a time of loss and despair. And no spoilers here, but the ending was fantastically surprising!


For fans of Kate Morton, Belinda Alexandra and Kristin Hannah, this is a captivating, poignant celebration of sisterhood and the magic of storytelling. I couldn’t recommend it more.


Buy a copy of The Secret Book of Flora Lea here.


AUTHOR Patti Callahan Henry

PUBLISHER HarperCollins

GENRE Fiction

RELEASED

03 May, 2023

ISBN: 9781460763940



Synopsis


Can a fairytale solve the mystery of her lost sister?


1939: Fourteen-year-old Hazel and five-year-old Flora are evacuated from London to a rural village to escape the horrors of the Second World War. Living with the Aberdeen family in a charming stone cottage, Hazel distracts her young sister with a fairy tale about a magical land, a secret place they can escape to that is all their own: Whisperwood.


But the unthinkable happens when Flora vanishes near the banks of the River Thames. Shattered, Hazel blames herself for her sister's disappearance, carrying the guilt into adulthood.


Twenty years later, Hazel is back in London, ready to move on from her job at a cosy rare-book shop for a career at Sotheby's. With a cherished boyfriend and an upcoming Paris getaway, Hazel's future seems set. But her tidy life is turned upside down when she unwraps a package containing a picture book called Whisperwood and the River of Stars. Hazel never told a soul about the storybook 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? Or is something sinister at play?


For fans of Kate Morton and Kristin Hannah, this is a captivating, poignant celebration of sisterhood and the magic of storytelling.



Links:

AU: The Secret Book of Flora Lea

About the Author

Website

Praise & Accolades

Book Club Kit

Blog & News




bottom of page