REVIEW: The Secret Book of Flora Lee

Posted July 26th, 2023 by in Blog, Historical Fiction, Review / 6 comments


The Secret Book of Flora Lee: Split between two historical time periods and beginning on the edge of WWII, young teenage Hazel creates a world for her baby sister Flora to escape to, an enchanted Whisperwood where the two sisters can find solace, adventure and peace away from their harsh reality. And when they are required to leave their mother’s care in an act of British patriotic sacrifice, our two girls are bundled into the care of the lovely who fosters their love of literature and shares with them the ancient myths of the world. 20 or so years on, we discover that not all fared well and when young Flora disappears off the banks of the river, Hazel is left to live her life wondering whatever befell her little sister who went missing at a time when war raged on.

As a successful librarian, Hazel is shocked to discover a rare book provided to her employer with the full and explicit detail of the world she had created for Flora as a child and as Whisperwood calls to her, Hazel is left to sacrifice everything in order to discover the truth.

Magical, beautifully written and holding a story within the story, The Secret Book of Flora Lee has the power to transport the avid reader into 3 different dimensions, that of war ravaged England, the start of the social revolution in the 60s and the enchanted world of Whisperwood. Part mystery, part romance, part historical fiction, the thematic intentions are evident across all three; do not take for granted those you love and to hold onto them with both hands.

The bond between sisters however, sat firmly as the bedrock and as we travel with Hazel on her journey of self-discovery, we find perhaps a little more than just her truth. From beginning to end, this was a pure delight, written with heart, warmth and an honest assessment of what it means to protect those you love dearly.

Book Info:

Publication: 2nd May 2023 | Atria Books |

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 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.



6 Responses to “REVIEW: The Secret Book of Flora Lee”

  1. Banana cake

    Sounds like a lovely book. I don’t usually read historical novels.