“The Secret Book of Flora Lea” by Patti Callahan Henry – Book Review

“There was once and still is an invisible place that is right here with us. In the land of Whisperwood, we can become anything we desire to reach the castle that waits.”“Telling stories is one of the greatest powers we possess. It’s like a dream you can fill with what you want.”

This book speaks to the nurturing power of storytelling and the solace that reading can provide for children and adults alike.

A dual-timeline narrative that follows Hazel Linden throughout her life. First in 1939 when she and her younger sister Flora were evacuated from London prior to The Blitz as part of Operation Pied Piper. Hazel, who was fourteen to Flora’s five made up a magical story to calm her little sister’s fears. It was a story about a magical forest which was entered via a shimmering door – A place called ‘Whisperwood’, where they could be anything they wanted to be, and have many adventures. Hazel found some happiness during that time when she discovered her first love. She also found her greatest sorrow, for Flora vanished, believed to have drowned in the river.

In 1960 when we meet the grown Hazel. She works in a rare bookstore, and unpacks a manuscript from an American author. She is astounded to realize that the book is about ‘Whisperwood’ – her story, hers and Flora’s. How is it possible that this American knows her story?  One impulsive decision sends Hazel’s life on a new trajectory. Could Flora possibly still be alive? She is obsessed with finding out the mystery of the Whisperwood book’s origin.

This book was heart-warming, heart-wrenching, and uplifting all at the same time. The Oxfordshire setting of the WWII storyline was an idyllic escape, and a marked contrast to the horrors of war in London. The characters were well fleshed out and people you’d like to get to know in person. Many themes run throughout the novel: the tragic and traumatizing effects of war, personal loss, familial bonds, first love, survivor’s guilt, hope, and of course, the magic of storytelling.

I highly recommend this lovely novel to all who enjoy historical fiction, nurturing stories,  and those who appreciate a touch of magic in the everyday – and relish the ‘consolation of a happy ending.’

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Atria Books via NetGalley.ISBN: 9781668011836 –  ASIN:  B0BSLYMS7J  –  368 pages

The publisher has provided a reading group guide to generate discussion.

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of fifteen novels.  In addition, she is the recipient of The Christy Award—A 2019 Winner “Book of the Year.” ; The Harper Lee Distinguished Writer of the Year for 2020 and the Alabama Library Association Book of the Year for 2019.

Patti Callahan is the co-host and co-creator of the popular weekly Friends and Fiction Facebook Live Show and podcast, featuring the five bestselling authors Mary Kay Andrews, Kristy Woodson Harvey, Kristin Harmel, and Mary Alice Monroe with endless stories, special guests, and a way to connect readers and writers.

Patti attended Auburn University for her undergraduate work and Georgia State University for her graduate degree. Once a Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist, she now writes full time.

A full-time author and mother of three children, she now resides in both Mountain Brook, Alabama, and Bluffton, South Carolina with her husband.

Follow Patti Callahan Henry on Twitter and/or visit her official website.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, books about books, Literary fiction, NetGalley, Women's fiction and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to “The Secret Book of Flora Lea” by Patti Callahan Henry – Book Review

  1. Pingback: Fictionophile’s MAY 2023 Reading Wrap-Up #bookblogger #MonthlyWrapUp | Fictionophile

  2. Scott Dubois says:

    Good post
    This book sounds like a heart-warming and magical read. The power of storytelling and the comfort it can provide is such an important message. I’m definitely adding it to my reading list.
    Scott Dubois
    Civic Edge Lifestyle


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for your review of this special book. I loved it and the author’s earlier novel, Becoming Mrs. Lewis

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: “Il libro segreto di Flora Lea” di Patti Callahan Henry – Recensione del libro @AtriaBooks @simonschuster @pcalhenry #TheSecretBookOfFloralea #BookReview – My Blog

  5. Fab review! I’m definitely adding it to my wishlist now… It sounds a bit like The Echo Of Old Books, which I enjoyed.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love the sound of this one Lynne. I’m definitely adding it to my Goodreads/StoryGraph tbr!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. deanne01 says:

    Absolutely wonderful review. I’m looking forward to reading this as well. I really enjoy her books.🌟📚🌸🌺🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Carol says:

    Lovely review!

    Liked by 2 people

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