An Imaginary Land, a Little Sister’s Mysterious Disappearance and a Rare Book in The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry

The Secret Book

Historical fiction with a twist

1939 London was a dangerous place and two sisters, Hazel and Flora Lea were sent away to the country by their mother to live safely away from the warlike conditions and bomb threats. Bridie and her son, Harry lovingly took the girls in and created a home for them to ride out the war. To distract her little sister, Hazel made up stories about a beautiful place they could go, privately telling her about an imaginary world that was a secret between them. When young Flora Lea goes missing, she is assumed to be dead, and everyone is devastated. Hazel feels responsible and the loss shapes her life. Decades later, back in London and working at a book store, she comes across a children’s book that tells the story of the imaginary world shockingly similar to the place she conjured up for her little sister so many years ago. This starts a wild goose chase to find out who wrote the story, sparking the hope that the truth about the disappearance of Flora Lea may be uncovered.

The Secret Book of Flora Lea shares the horrors of the war, death and the challenging situations children were placed in, along with the fantasy of a safe place and the love of family. Patti Callahan Henry explores relationships and the opening of past wounds in order to find the truth with warmth, bringing everything full circle with an unexpected twist in the end. I enjoyed this wartime mystery that had a variety of characters and a bit of romance. In addition to the entertainment value, the story raises deep-seated questions about which adults have the rights to make decisions for children, even if it is well meaning, and who takes responsibility for the outcomes? This would be a fun book club book!

Patti Henry

About the Author:

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times, Globe and Mail, and USA Today bestselling author of sixteen novels, including her newest, The Secret Book of Flora Lea. She’s also a podcast host of original content for her novels, Surviving Savannah and Becoming Mrs. Lewis.

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 also was 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. 

Book Nation by Jen

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