Official Website of New York Times Bestselling Author
patti callahan henry
“[M]agical… An enchanting tribute to the
power of storytelling."
“[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.
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.
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.
signed first edition
For signed bookplates, please mail a self-addressed stamped envelope to:
Patti Callahan Henry
1919 Oxmoor Road. PMB #303
Homewood, AL 35209
About the Author
A New York Times Bestselling Author
Podcast Host and Co-creator of
Friends & Fiction
Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times, Globe and Mail, and USA Today bestselling author of sixteen novels.
She’s also a podcast host, and one of those podcasts explores the background of her novel, Becoming Mrs. Lewis, The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis. Her latest novel, Once Upon a Wardrobe, released last October, explores the stories in C. S. Lewis's life that we might see hidden in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Surviving Savannah, a historical novel exploring the true and lost to time shipwreck of the S. S. Pulaski was released last year.
She is the recipient of The Christy Award “Book of the Year”; The Harper Lee Distinguished Writer of the Year and the Alabama Library Association Book of the Year for Becoming Mrs. Lewis.
She is the co-host and co-creator of the popular weekly online Friends and Fiction live web show and podcast. Patti was also a contributor to the monthly life lesson essay column for Parade Magazine. She’s published in numerous anthologies, articles, and short story collections, including an Audible Original about Florence Nightingale, titled Wild Swan narrated by the Tony Award winner, Cynthia Erivo.
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 Atria.
She’s spent countless hours, and yet not nearly enough hours, wondering and reading and talking about C. S. Lewis, Joy Davidman, and their life together.
For more detailed info about Patti or speaking inquiries, please visit our SPEAKING page.