When a woman discovers a rare book that has connections to her past, long-held secrets
about her missing sister and their childhood spent in the English countryside during World
War II are revealed.
In the war-torn London of 1939, fourteen-year-old Hazel and five-year-old Flora are evacuated
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 timeworn 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
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.
The Secret of Flora Lea is absolutely mesmerizing! From the very first chapter you are pulled
into the lives of Hazel and Flora. As an older sister myself I can relate to the guilt and sorrow
that Hazel felt at the loss of her beloved Flora. She pulls her trauma around her and uses it as a
shield to keep anyone from getting too close. She also quits writing her magical tales, which has
left a hole in her life that she pretends doesn’t exist. As you live the story with her and hope and
pray for her to find her long lost sister, you will experience the full gamut of human emotions.
Patty Callahan Henry weaves her magic within the pages of this beautiful and heart-wrenching
tale. Flora and Hazel will stay with you long after you turn the last page.