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Official Website of New York Times  Bestselling Author

patti callahan henry

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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.

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“[M]agical… An enchanting tribute to the
power of storytelling."
—Kirkus Reviews 

(Starred Review)

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The Secret Book of Flora Lea 

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Available Now!  

 Hardcover, e-book,
and audiobook formats 


“[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.” 

Publishers Weekly

Intro 1
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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.

Book Summary
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Listen to Audiobook Excerpt 

Narrated by award-winning, Cynthia Erivo, an English actress, singer, producer, creator, and songwriter. She is the recipient of several accolades, including a Daytime Emmy Award, a Grammy Award, and a Tony Award, in addition to nominations for two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Audio excerpt courtesy of Simon & Schuster Audio from THE SECRET BOOK OF FLORA LEA by Patti Callahan Henry, read by Cynthia Erivo with a note read by the author. Copyright © 2023 by Patti Callahan Henry. Used with permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Patti on Cynthia Erivo narrating her audiobook  

Patti on what she is excited for listeners to hear. 

Patti on recording the Author's Note.  

Audio Clip
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Praise for
The Secret Book of Flora Lea 

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In this gorgeous ode to books and storytellers, Patti Callahan Henry shows that literature lives inside us, and can unite us despite the odds. Through war, young love, a sister’s remorse, and a mysterious land called Whisperwood, I was torn between savoring each word and tearing through the pages to learn what happened next. Pure magic!"


Janet Skeslien Charles, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Library

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The Secret Book of Flora Lea is a beguiling blend of hope, mystery and true familial love. It exposes the deep wounds of a family tragically separated because of war. Told in an utterly fresh way with dual timelines and a host of unforgettable characters this is a story that is both necessary and satisfying through the last page. Powerful and spellbinding!"


Sadeqa Johnson International best-selling author of The House of Eve


"At the heart of this novel is a shattering loss that irrevocably changes the lives of a cast of complex, delightful characters. Henry is a born storyteller, keeping the reader on tenterhooks as she expertly unveils the truths and lies that drive this gripping, magical tale."

Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Magnolia Palace

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Patti Callahan Henry has pulled off the near-impossible, she’s created a fantastical tale of myth, wartime history, and true heartache.

I absolutely loved this book!”

  —Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of The Many Daughters of Afong


"{P}atti Callahan Henry delivers, yet again, an historically layered, dreamy tale that keeps the anglophile fires burning, on the heels of her acclaimed 2021 release, Once Upon a Wardrobe. Her descriptive detail is cinematic... A charming story that weaves fairy tale, mystery, and historical importance with a good dose of romance, The Secret Book of Flora Lea will appeal to all ages, as the author unfurls a fantastic story about ‘an invisible place right here with us.’”

New York Journal of Books 


“Patti Callahan Henry is a master of the elusive fairy tale, and nowhere is her talent on better display than in the pages of THE SECRET BOOK OF FLORA LEA, a bittersweet tale of loss, destiny, and the strings of deep love that bind us together across the years.

The terror and heartbreak of the WW2-era children’s evacuation of London collide with the dangling threads of an unsolved mystery that picks up nearly two decades later, at the dawn of the swinging sixties. This heartrending, captivating tale of family, first love, and fate will sweep you away.”

Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Vanishing Stars and The Book of Lost Names 

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"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 sublime blend of historical fiction and fairy tale, much-loved author Patti Callahan Henry has created her best work in The Secret Book of Flora Lea. She again proves herself as a thoroughly gifted and lyrical novelist, swirling mystery and magic around a pair of unforgettable sisters. It’s the kind of book that begs to be read, re-read and discussed. It is a pick that is both satisfying and memorable, and I can’t wait for readers to be wholly transported.”

Barnes & Noble, Shannon DeVito, Senior Director of Books

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Art Illustration by Yvette Gilbert


"The Secret Book of Flora Lea” by Patti Callahan Henry is an enchanting work of historical fiction about two sisters impacted by Operation Pied Piper during World War II. Using an inventive blend of myth, fairytale, and literature, Henry spins a tender and heartening story about the lasting bonds of sisterly love and the lifetime impact of war trauma...The Secret Book of Flora Lea” crescendos into a fantastic love letter to fairytales and an ode to the healing that can come while searching for happily ever after.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


"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 are 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 

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“In this heartfelt novel, Henry deftly examines the bonds of sisterhood while seamlessly melding the horrors of war with the comfort of fairy tales, reminding us that “telling stories is one of the greatest powers we possess.

The Washington Post 


“Two sisters, dual time periods, a magical secret place, an abiding mystery — THE SECRET BOOK OF FLORA LEA is an enchanting story of survival against all odds. With her trademark warmth and a feather-light touch, Patti Callahan Henry weaves together events both real and imagined. Transporting, heartfelt, and atmospheric."


Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of The Exiles

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The narrative is beautifully told, replete with vivid details of the UK settings that transport the reader to the novel’s world. While it is the mystery of Flora’s disappearance that drives the plot, several other themes are woven in—forgiveness and self-forgiveness, the healing power of the natural world, the comfort of stories, and self-discovery. It all culminates in an astonishing and satisfying plot twist.”

Linda Henry Dean, Alabama Writers’ Forum


“A spellbinding tale of hope and perseverance, The Secret Book of Flora Lea is as enchanting and whimsical as the Whisperwood fairytale hidden within its pages. It reminds us that a happily-ever-after isn't out of reach—so long as we heed the tiny voice within, whispering that the real magic of the story may be closer than we think."


Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Apothecary and The London Seance Society

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“Mix "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" with a touch of "84 Charing Cross Road," a dash of "Gone Girl" and a pinch of Jane Austen, and you have best-selling novelist Patti Callahan Henry's latest romantic mystery. The author turns to England for 'The Secret Book of Flora Lea.' 


...Beyond history, 'The Secret Book of Flora Lea' is a parable about the human need for stories and how seemingly silly fairy tales can give children and adults strength, courage, and resilience."

—StarNews Wilmington 

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Off the Shelf, Recs by Kristin Harmel
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Go to the APPEARANCES PAGE to learn more about each event.