"The Cottingley Secret" by Hazel Gaynor is one of those stories that stick with you long after you finish the last page. Bittersweet, haunting, enchanting, and magical are some of the words that come to mind when I think of this book. And, as a personal bonus for me, the theme of the book—the possibility of fairies being real—goes perfectly with the name of my blog!
"The Cottingley Secret" tells two stories. One is the story of Olivia, who lives in present-day Ireland. She inherits a bookshop and finds a manuscript written by one of the two girls involved the Cottingley fairy incident. As Olivia reads the manuscript, we are transported back to 1917 in Cottingley England and are told the story of two girls who supposedly discover fairies and “fool” the world. The story of the Cottingley fairies is based on a true story, which makes it even more fascinating.
The characters and the story are very well written. Olivia needs to find the little girl inside of her and believe in that person. I love the journey that Olivia's character goes through emotionally and the decisions she makes as she evaluates her life and who she is. The story in 1917 also deals with beliefs and emotions. Believing in fairies gives people hope during the war and people need something to believe in; if fairies and the photographs are real, then anything is possible, such as the war coming to an end. It is such a dark time that people love the story of the fairies and it becomes a sensation, to the extent that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author of the Sherlock Holmes books) believes and writes an article on the girls and their fairies.
There are so many amazing themes and lessons that one can draw from "The Cottingley Secret." There is a theme of memories and still being the same person deep inside that you always were, even as a little girl and of believing in oneself. Ms. Gaynor's story brought to mind blissful memories of being of a little girl, believing in magic, and it encouraged me to find that little girl once again—to look at the world with wonder. I became so emotionally attached to this book that I didn't want it to end!
Tell me in the comments: Do you believe in fairies?
Content, Rating and Genre: This is a clean read. There are a few minor swear words. There is also a scene where characters get drunk. I give this book 5 stars! The genre is contemporary, historical, and women's fiction.
I want to thank Hazel Gaynor, William Morrow and Dey Street and Harper Collins Publishers for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.
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About the author:
Hazel Gaynor is a New York Times bestselling, award-winning author, who lives in County Kildare, Ireland with her husband and two children. Her 2014 debut historical novel The Girl Who Came Home—A Novel of the Titanic hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists, and went on to win the 2015 Historical Novel of the Year award from the Romantic Novelists’ Association in London. Her second novel A Memory of Violets, was also a New York Times bestseller, and her third, The Girl from The Savoy was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail bestseller. The book was also a finalist for the 2016 Irish Book Awards. All Hazel’s novels have been received to critical-acclaim and have been translated into a number of foreign languages. Her forthcoming titles in 2017 – The Cottingley Secret (August) and Last Christmas in Paris (October, co-written with Heather Webb) have already received an impressive array of early reviews. Hazel is represented by Michelle Brower at Aevitas Creative, New York.