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THE SECRET BOOK OF FLORA LEA

An enchanting tribute to the power of storytelling.

A young woman searches for the sister who vanished 20 years earlier in Henry’s magical novel.

In the swinging London of 1960, Hazel Linden is working in a store selling rare books, about to start a new job at Sotheby’s auction house and contentedly cohabiting with a hunky professor with “wind-whipped black hair” and family money. Then, on her last day working at the store, she opens a mysterious package that brings her back to her adolescence. Inside is the manuscript of a children’s novel titled Whisperwood and the River of Stars, which echoes much more closely than coincidence would permit the enchanted land she invented years earlier and the stories she told about it as a 14-year-old to her 5-year-old sister, Flora, when the two of them were evacuated from London during the Blitz. During the time the two of them were living with motherly Bridie Aberdeen and her artistic son, Harry, outside of Oxford, Flora disappeared one day, leaving her beloved teddy bear by the River Thames and leaving the police to conclude that she had drowned, though her body was never recovered. Hazel, who has always blamed herself for Flora’s disappearance because she was off canoodling with Harry when it happened, and who has never given up hope of finding her again, is inspired to redouble her efforts, which lead her both to the book’s author on Cape Cod and into her past, where she reconnects with Bridie and, more life-changingly, with Harry as well as with a journalist who has been researching the stories of lost evacuees. Henry, who has a clear affection for almost all of her characters, with the exception of a couple of baddies, sets them in a lush, comforting, and often pagan-influenced world where telling and listening to stories has remarkable transformative effects.

An enchanting tribute to the power of storytelling.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781668011836

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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HAPPY PLACE

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

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Exes pretend they’re still together for the sake of their friends on their annual summer vacation.

Wyn Connor and Harriet Kilpatrick were the perfect couple—until Wyn dumped Harriet for reasons she still doesn’t fully understand. They’ve been part of the same boisterous friend group since college, and they know that their breakup will devastate the others and make things more than a little awkward. So they keep it a secret from their friends and families—in fact, Harriet barely even admits it to herself, focusing instead on her grueling hours as a surgical resident. She’s ready for a vacation at her happy place—the Maine cottage she and her friends visit every summer. But (surprise!) Wyn is there too, and he and Harriet have to share a (very romantic) room and a bed. Telling the truth about their breakup is out of the question, because the cottage is up for sale, and this is the group’s last hurrah. Determined to make sure everyone has the perfect last trip, Harriet and Wyn resolve to fake their relationship for the week. The problem with this plan, of course, is that Harriet still has major feelings for Wyn—feelings that only get stronger as they pretend to be blissfully in love. As always, Henry’s dialogue is sparkling and the banter between characters is snappy and hilarious. Wyn and Harriet’s relationship, shown both in the past and the present, feels achingly real. Their breakup, as well as their complicated relationships with their own families, adds a twinge of melancholy, as do the relatable growing pains of a group of friends whose lives are taking them in different directions.

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9780593441275

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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