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Sunday, 11 February 2018

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor #BookReview


The 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?

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I believe!!

I found this to be a magical, charming and wonderful story that mixes fact with fiction in a delightful story that kept me enthralled from start to finish!

It mixes the 'then' storyline of 1917 when 2 girls, Frances and Elsie, fooled the world with their photographs of the fairies they saw playing at the beck in Cottingley, and how it consumed their lives and often left them feeling they hadn't let the world know of their secret! 

And in the present day we follow Olivia who is struggling to connect with her life as she loses close relatives, is struggling to keep her beloved bookshop open and is facing her wedding day with major doubts over her relationship with the odious Jack. As she is decluttering she stumbles across a manuscript written by Frances and details her life and she is enthralled by what she finds and sets about trying to find the truth behind the story she reads and how it connects to her family.

The characters were a major strength in this book. The young girls and their story was fascinating as their lives weren't easy, but they found comfort in spending time with each other and the garden visitors and it helped them make sense of the world. And Olivia was delightful in her devotion to her family, especially her grandparents, after her tragic youth and her inquisitive mind was perfect to let the story develop while she discovered more about herself - both of her past and for her own personal decisions she needed to make. The fairy magic begins to creep into the bookshop too and maybe life is about to be transformed for Olivia!

I found this really easy to read and can highly recommend it to those who love history and a story full of magic!


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