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  • Writer's picturePatti Callahan Henry

Indie Bestseller List

The Southern Indie Bestseller List

The Southern Indie Bestseller List, as brought to you by IndieBound and SIBA, for the week ending Sunday, May 7, 2023. Based on reporting from the independent booksellers of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance and IndieBound. For an independent bookstore near you, visit



From the New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis & Surviving Savannah comes her latest novel, The Secret Book of Flora Lea. Set outside Oxford in the hamlet of Binsey, and available now with Simon & Schuster Atria.

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.

Book Summary

"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.


1. Happy Place
Emily Henry, Berkley, $27, 9780593441275
2. Lessons in Chemistry
Bonnie Garmus, Doubleday, $29, 9780385547345
3. The Covenant of Water
Abraham Verghese, Grove Press, $32, 9780802162175
4. The Trackers
Charles Frazier, Ecco, $30, 9780062948083
5. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
Gabrielle Zevin, Knopf, $28, 9780593321201
6. Hello Beautiful
Ann Napolitano, The Dial Press, $28, 9780593243732
7. Hang the Moon
Jeannette Walls, Scribner, $28, 9781501117299
8. Horse
Geraldine Brooks, Viking, $28, 9780399562969
9. Small Mercies
Dennis Lehane, Harper, $30, 9780062129482
10. Simply Lies
David Baldacci, Grand Central, $30, 9781538750636
11. Remarkably Bright Creatures
Shelby Van Pelt, Ecco, $29.99, 9780063204157
12. The Secret Book of Flora Lea
Patti Callahan Henry, Atria Books, $28.99, 9781668011836
13. In the Lives of Puppets
TJ Klune, Tor, $28.99, 9781250217448
14. Pineapple Street
Jenny Jackson, Pamela Dorman Books, $28, 9780593490693
15. Demon Copperhead
Barbara Kingsolver, Harper, $32.50, 9780063251922


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