BOOK REVIEW: The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

Title: The Cottingley Secrety
Author: Hazel Gaynor
Publication: August 1, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Biographical Historical Fiction
Pages: 416

SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)

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?


A few years ago I read a book for review by Hazel Gaynor called The Girl from the Savoy. It was absolutely magical and I feel in love with her as an author.  Every time I see one of her books on sale in my daily book sale email I try and buy it if the price is right. I think I have two of her books on e-book to read still.   Fast forward to my birthday and my trip to a used bookstore to shop for some goodies I saw one of her books on sale I knew that I had to buy it.  Then when my book club did a “book tasting” to find our next few books I knew I needed to recommend it to the group.  Low and behold the book one for one of the months.  I was so excited to read it.  

Olivia is back home in Ireland to bury her Pappy.  She was raised by her grandparents after her mother died when she was very young.  As she sits up on the tall cliffs her favorite spot ever, she learns that her Pappy has left her his bookstore in town.   When she finds a store about faeries that her Nana is tied to her interest is piqued.  She calls off her wedding and decides to stay permanently in Ireland.  This book was so magical.  I loved every second of it.  It was interesting to see how she weaved the two separate stories together.  As this story was progressing I wanted to learn more about these faeries that they photographed.  I looked it up and these two girls existed that she wrote the story about.  

I loved how Olivia blossomed in the story.  When it started she seemed like just a shell of herself.  By the end, she was her own person and stood on her own two feet.  I loved how the author wrote about the bookstore once again becoming something wonderful.  Olivia took it from the muck and mire and turned it into a bustling thing that she was able to open the cottage next door as another book store this time selling new books.  The relationship that she had with the little girl, Iris was sweet.  She seems to take Iris and her widowed father under her wings.  Writing notes back and forth with the little girl and leaving them in her store window.  The way the little flowers grow are amazing. While the author wrapped up the faery stories quite well, I think it is up to you whether you think the faeries are real or not.  I will be reading the other two books I have by her sooner rather than later. 


Pick up your copy of The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or check your local bookstore. Also make sure to add it to your To Reads list on Goodreads and leave feedback for the author when you are finished. To check out more options from author Hazel Gaynor, check out her website HERE.

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