Book Review: The Cottingley Secret by NYT Bestselling author, Hazel Gaynor

Title:  The Cottingley Secret
Author: Hazel Gaynor
Publisher: William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Genre: Literary Fiction / Dual Timeline

“The Cottingley Secret tells the tale of two girls who somehow convince the world that magic exists. An artful weaving of old legends with new realities, this tale invites the reader to wonder: could it be true?” — Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker

One of BookBub’s Most-Anticipated Books of Summer 2017! 

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?

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor is written for booklovers like you and me. It's a mixture of historical details mixed with a legacy that stretched generations, and add in the magical realism aspect, and we're in for a fun read. 

O, how I love the start of this book. Something left behind, but with a story in itself that fans the pages, and entice readers and characters alike.  The description the author wrote of the "Something Old" bookstore pretty much ensnared my senses, even though she already had me at "Something Old" and "bookstore." Then we dive into an old book, tied together with ribbons with a story about more than just fairies. It's about friendships, lost, and family. It connected the present with the past. As we continued on, we jump back and forth between Frances and Elsie to present day Olivia. The dual timeline format works exceptionally well with this story. The way it unfolds, and the way it held back until the precise moment of revelation. Just simply a story and its secrets that beholds. 

"'The soul of the fairy is its evanescence. Its charm is the eternal doubt, rose-tinted with the shadow of a hope. But the thrill is all in ourselves.'"

The characters are just as lovely as we find the sweetness in Iris or the charm in Ross, the rather serious Frances with the ever mischievous Elsie or Olivia, one who is lost about much, but found home for the future encased in the beautiful package of the past. Sometimes something old is just as something new. 

". . . the greatest gift. . . the confidence to fill the blank page, the desire to live a life full of tomorrows in which everything is possible and all our best stories are waiting to be told."

I hope you'll get the chance to read this story that gave an old story new perspective, and the connection with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle added a little fun. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.
Please note, all quotes are taken from ARC (essentially an uncorrected proof). Please do not share quote or if you do, please make note that it is taken from an ARC. Thank you.
For my review policy, please see my Disclosure page.



HAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel The Girl from the Savoy was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. The Cottingley Secret and Last Christmas in Paris will be published in 2017.

Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages.

Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland.

TO CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Check out the full tour schedule for more information! Click on the image below to take you there.



  1. Replies
    1. Me too!! I'm definitely getting hooked on them! Rachel Hauck's latest, The Writing Desk is also fabulous!

  2. A book for booklovers indeed! There are so many people I know who would LOVE this book!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.


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