My Review of The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

I said my story had many beginnings, and the day the camera arrived was one of them. After all, without the camera, there wouldn’t have been any photographs. Without the camera, I wouldn’t have a story to tell. . . .
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?
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 1, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006249984X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062499844

Magical..., Enchanting..., Sublime ..., are just some of the words I could use to begin.  It's all true!   

Whether or not you are familiar with the story of the Cottingley fairies from the nineteenth-century doesn't really matter. I needed a book to read that would put me in a peaceful mood and a contemplative one at that. This is it for me!  Truly, The Cottingley Secret is a retelling of the controversial events of Frances Cottingley from Yorkshire, England and the very interesting photographs of a little girl in a wood playing with fairies!  

I didn't know the story at all but I have seen the photographs online over the years and always wondered what really happened. Author, Hazel Gaynor with incredible imagination and foresight has created two story lines connecting families across two decades.  I was hooked from the opening paragraph.  

When I hear the word Yorkshire, I think nature and beauty but I also immediately think of The Bronte Sisters.  What I loved about The Cottingley Secret was that it introduced me to a part of Yorkshire unfamiliar to me; Cottingley. I appreciate the author's adept usage of Yorkshire terms i.e., nowt meaning nothing  and a lot of thou's and thee's.  I have some friends in and around Yorkshire who I contacted to ask if the slang usage or terminology was authentic. Luckily for me, I was told a firm "yes".  

Also, I am relieved that Hazel Gaynor did not feel the urge to wrap up Olivia's present day story line in a big red bow with a happily ever after ending. I don't want to give anything away but there is a love interest named, Ross, whom I immediately loved.  You see, dear readers, sometimes in life you are not always promised a happy ending. For some people some obstacles cannot be cleared. Sometimes you have to start with friendship and see where that leads. 

I actually had a childhood experience that involved fairies that I never truly talked about. Suffice it to say, I wholeheartedly believe in them and they do exist. A huge thank you to Hazel Gaynor and Frances Griffiths for reminding me of my past childhood experiences. 

I hope everyone who wants to read a truly, beautifully written and engaging story, gives The Cottingley Secret a chance. You will not be disappointed. 

To purchase the book in the United States,  Amazon US

To purchase the book in the United Kingdom,  Amazon UK

For the author's website,  Hazel Gaynor


Hels said…
I am very familiar with the story of the Cottingley fairies WW1, especially interesting when we moderns consider the social and spiritual beliefs of British life back then. I will read the novel and link it to my paragraph.

Many thanks
Kimberly Eve said…
Hi Hels,

Yes, 1917 was the year in the novel.
Thank you for reading the novel and for your links.