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Looking for a fascinating book about how the English coped with WW2 and its aftermath? Check out this one!
Read this Fascinating Book About England Post-WW2
Some books I fall in love with, others I find fascinating even though I don’t enjoy everything about them. Book reviews consist of nothing more than one reader’s opinion, and you might adore this book. Here’s why I think The Secret Book of Flora Lea is a fascinating book, but it has a few things I didn’t enjoy.
By Patti Callahan Henry, Atria Books, May 2, 2023, 368 pages.
Twenty years ago, Hazel Mersey Linden and her little sister, Flora Lea, took part in England’s Operation Pied Piper. In September of 1939, parents sent their children to safety far from the violence of the German Blitz on London. Hazel, aged 15, creates the magical world of Whisperwood to help the much younger Flora deal with the loss and violence of war. They fill their world with beauty, imagination, endless possibilities, and hope.
But despite the government’s good intentions, some children never made it home. Flora Lea was one of them.
In the spring of 1960, Hazel starts her final task before taking a brief holiday and starting the job she’s always wanted at Sotheby’s Auction House. Her life falls apart when she unwraps the last package on her last day at Hogan’s Rare Book Shoppe. The package contains a first edition of a fairy tale from America and original illustrations by a famous artist. Whisperwood, the magical land she’s never shared with another soul besides Flora, stares up at her from the work table.
She can’t believe the Whisperwood and the River of Stars, nor the illustrations featuring two sisters in a setting that resembles Binsey, Oxfordshire, England, where Hazel and Flora went during the evacuation. The book only means one thing: Flora didn’t drown in the River Thames.
Hazel grabs the book and illustrations and runs to her Bloomsbury flat—the same one she shared with her parents and Flora before the war. Her impulsive action triggers a series of undoings that will forever change her life.
What I Loved About This Book
I have a soft spot for sister stories, and I’ve enjoyed other books written by Patti Callahan Henry, so I decided to try this one. The story of incredible loss, childhood friendship, and learning to live again warmed my heart. Told from multiple points of view, the mystery of Flora Lea unfolds like a good British tea. Readers get caught up with Hazel’s frustration and hope as each clue reveals and unravels the fabric of Hazel’s tidy life.
The author reveals and unravels the reader’s perceptions and memories as well. Reading The Secret Book of Flora Lea brought old regrets to the surface. It also helped me reframe them and look forward with hope.
I struggled with some aspects of the story. If you don’t like your characters to smoke, swear, or have lovers, think twice before reading the book. The book has great takeaways, but I’d give it an R rating if it were a movie. A fascinating book, but I don’t enjoy the scenes that move it from PG-13 to R.