Monday, August 14, 2017

Blog Tour Review: The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

From the Back Cover:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home turns the clock back one hundred years to a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Now, in her newest novel, international bestseller Hazel Gaynor reimagines their story.

1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.

One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?

My Thoughts:

I had never heard of the Cottingley Fairies before I saw the description of this book, and after being blown away by Hazel Gaynor's short story "Hush" in one of my top reads of 2016, Fall of Poppies, I knew I wanted to read this book. Based on the true story of cousins Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright, and further infused with authenticity by the author's time spent with Frances's daughter, The Cottingley Secret is a hauntingly beautiful tale of childhood, friendship, magic, and finding the courage to start one's life over.

Dual timelines have become a favorite storytelling structure for me. I love how they connect events of the past to the present and show us how history still echoes through time, whether on a smaller scale for an individual or a family or on the broader scale of humanity as a whole. The Cottingley Secret moves back and forth between World War I and the years that followed and the present day, illuminating how two girls, with their claims of seeing fairies in England, gave hope to a country reeling from the horrors of war and the deaths of so many men, and whose story inspires Olivia Kavanagh, a woman in the 21st century, to rediscover who she is and seize the reins of her life's journey, in the process uncovering her own connection to the Cottingley Fairies.

Hazel Gaynor is receiving many accolades for her writing, and I can see why. Her prose is just gorgeous. Her descriptions lush and pensive and transporting. Her portrayal of human nature emotional and sympathetic. I was in tears throughout the final chapter. There were a few sections of the story that dragged a bit for me, and I would have liked a firmer resolution to Olivia's romantic subplot, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The quieter pacing and character-driven plot may not appeal to all readers, but for those who appreciate a beautifully written story that highlights a lesser-known chapter in history while providing an in-depth study of the human experience, The Cottingley Secret is a must-read.

My Rating:  4.5 Stars out of 5

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Cottingley Secret is on a blog tour!


  1. I just finished this book and I truly loved it. I had her the Fairy stories and figured if anyone can bring it to life it was Hazel Gaynor. And she did. I love her books. Her A Memory of Violets was amazing. As well as The Girl From The Savoy. Don't enter me as I own the book.
    Carol Luciano

  2. I love dual storylines as well - they are a favorite storytelling device of mine.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!


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