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The Cottingley Secret

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  5,880 ratings  ·  1,042 reviews
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 t
Paperback, 383 pages
Published August 1st 2017 by William Morrow Paperbacks
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  5,880 ratings  ·  1,042 reviews

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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
This book is so very magical 💕 It was my feel good book and let me give justice to the amazing cover! I want to go there!!

This story is about Frances and Elsie from the past and Olivia from present day.

Olivia has come home to Ireland to get her grandparents (nana & pappy) things in order. Olivia's sweet grandfather has died and he left her his bookshop, Something Old. He sold old books as you can figure from the title. Olivia is trying to decide if she wants to go back to London and get married
Diane S ☔
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Whimsical, lyrical, a pure delight, and I fell into this magical story just like Alice falling into the rabbit hole. It is 1917 and Nine year old Frances and her mother leave South Africa for Cottingley, England to stay with family while her father fights in the war. There she find a cousin, Elsie, 16 who introduces Frances to the Beck. Despite their age difference the girls become fast friends, it is here there are said to be fairies. Here they will take pictures that seem to prove it, pictures ...more
The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor is a 2017 William Morrow Paperbacks publication.

Charming and magical-

This novel is based on the real events surrounding a group of photographs taken by sixteen year old Elsie Wright and her nine year old cousin, Frances Griffiths, in Cottingley, England in 1917.

The photographs allegedly captured images of fairies at the Cottingley Beck, a stream where the two girls often played. The photos garnered the attention of Sherlock Holmes author, Sir Arthur Conan
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Equal parts enchanting tale of childhood magic and bearable story of a woman wrestling with engagement to the wrong man. Though Gaynor's prose sways from maladroit to radiant and the plot is wholly predictable, The Cottingley Secret proves a pleasant read.

Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor and deeply enjoyed it. Gaynor's writing was beautiful and uplifting, even in the midst of the Titanic tragedy. The Cottingley Secret, her fourth novel, is one I want to hug, and it's going to my favorites shelf. Told in dual storylines; one story is of Olivia in present-day Ireland who's inherited the most charming bookshop, and the other is of Frances, a young girl arriving in Yorkshire during the first World War. The book was inspired by the real F ...more
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

4.5 Stars

”I know that the best time to see them is in that perfect hour before sunset when the sun sinks low on the horizon like a ripe peach and sends shafts of gold bursting through the trees. The ‘in between.’ I call it. No longer day, not yet night; some other place and time when magic hangs in the air and the light plays tricks on the eye. You might easily miss the flash of violet and emerald, but I—according to my teacher, Mrs. Hogan—am ‘a curiously observant child.’ I see their misty f
Rating 4.5

What a fun, whimsical, magical story. Initially, the name drew me in, then the cover, and when I saw in the blurb it said 'fairies' I was hopelessly hooked. I bugged my library to get a copy and they got both print and audio....I naturally selected the audio and loved every minute of it. I didn't want this one end. One line in the book that I kept coming back to....Those who don't believe in magic will never find it. And that is key to this wonderful book. And I for one, believe and l
I chose this book purely based on its cover. The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor looked gorgeous, and after seeing it all over Goodreads and thinking about the Cotswolds, I fell in love. Then I learned it doesn't take place in England, but in Ireland, as well as that it's based on a true story. Wow! Knock me over with a feather... all that said, it was a good book and I enjoyed it very much. I'd give it somewhere between a 3.5 and 4 stars rounded up.

Two young girls take pictures of faeries in
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a rather clever fictional approach to the true story of the Cottingley fairies. Back in 1917 when photography was still fairly basic and people were less cynical than today, two young girls fooled the world with photos of paper fairies posed at the bottom of their garden. This is the true part of the story to which Hazel Gaynor has added some fictional family members to link events to Olivia who lives in the current day.
Both stories, that of the young girls and their fairies and of Olivi
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

Can Olivia have some connection to Elsie and Frances who lived 100 years ago? Can Olivia find it?

Is the connection somewhere in the pages of the rare books in the bookshop, SOMETHING OLD, that Olivia's grandfather left her? Is it in the story she finds that leads her to believe in herself like Elsie and Frances believed in fairies?

Olivia lives in present day and finds a manuscript in her grandfather's things that refers to fairies. As she reads the manuscript and deals with her unhappy life at t
Do little girls still believe in magic at all? After reading The Cottingley Secret, this not-so-young-girl believed!

In 1917, the Big War had just broken out when Frances Griffiths’ father joined up to “do his part.” Frances and her mother were whisked off to England to stay with relatives, including her cousin, Elsie. Obviously, Frances was young, bored, worried and sad and she often spent time alone in the beck, a clearing by the pond. It is there that she first saw the faeries. Of course, no o
Rebecca Carter
I simply adored this book and fell in love with it from the moment I read the beautifully written prologue. I admit to liking a bit of magic sometimes, who doesn't need some in their life? This book is so evocative of childhood and takes me back to hunting for fairies at the bottom of my Grans garden and making fairy houses out of twigs.

I've always been aware of the Cottingley photographs, so was intrigued as to how the author would approach this.
The storyline interweaves between two timelines
4 stars. Two hankies and one pot of Earl Grey tea.

Olivia Kavanagh, now living in London, has gone home to Ireland. Her grandfather has passed away and her grandmother is in a nursing home, suffering from Alzheimer's disease. As she clears out her grandparent's cottage and tidies up their antiquarian book shop, she uncovers a mystery going back to World War I England. How is her family connected to the famous Cottingley fairies? What secrets are revealed in an old manuscript? How do the lessons o
Cindy Burnett
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Cottingley Secret cements Hazel Gaynor’s position as one of my favorite authors. I loved The Girl Who Came Home and A Memory of Violets, and The Cottingley Secret is equally outstanding. For years I have been fascinated with the English girls, Elise Wright and Frances Griffiths, who in 1917 claimed they photographed fairies in their backyard and the resulting notoriety they achieved. While I was familiar with the basic facts of the event, Gaynor recreates their story and fills in the detail ...more
Louise Wilson
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convince the world that they have done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Their parents are astonished when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is convinced of the photographs authenticity. The girls become a national sensation. The girls hide their secret for decades. One hundred years later, when Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfathers bookshop, she becomes fascinated by the s ...more
Heather Webb
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
With lyrical prose, Gaynor captures the vivid imagination of two young girls, their journey through a world of lush forest and glittering streams and the magic that lies therein--an escape from the difficult realities of family life and WWI era England. I was utterly transported to the enchanting countryside of 1917 Yorkshire, and then again to Olivia's world in a quaint village in contemporary Ireland. In The Cottingley Secret, Gaynor asks us the question we all have buried somewhere in our hea ...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2017
THE COTTINGLEY SECRET is the first book I have read by Hazel Gaynor. I was intrigued by the idea of the book, about the cousins that took the Cottingley photographs of fairies (you can google Cottingley fairies to see the photographs yourself, they are added at the end of the book). Personally, from a modern perspective, I have a hard time to see how anyone can take them for real. But, it was another time back then.

Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My thanks to my Goodreads friends Melissa and Rory, whose reviews pointed me towards this lovely book.

It was a nearly perfect book for me—first, there is the question of what Frances has actually seen. In her mind, she has seen fairies and I found myself wanting so much to believe her! Having spent many long hours as a child playing outdoors, watching all that went on around me, I always longed for a special experience such as hers.

Secondly, there is the link to the real world—Frances and Elsie
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Cottingley Secret has a little bit of everything: magic, loss, deceit, heartache and love! The characters are well drawn and both timelines intertwine nicely. One timeline is based on true events of two young girls that photographed fairies in Yorkshire. I knew nothing of The Cottingley fairies and it is quit a captivating story. A delightful warmhearted story I highly recommend if you like historical fiction with dual narratives.

Susan Peterson
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There is nothing better than finishing a book with a smile on my face, filled with the warmth and heart of a wonderful story. The Cottingley Secret is a beautifully written book, filled with captivating images and ideas. This is a story that you can totally immerse yourself in, a fairy tale of sorts, where you can shake off the pressures of the day and escape in a world of magic. This book is enchanting, filled with love, and truly delightful.
Sharon Metcalf
Oct 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, logan-bookclub
3.5 stars

I'll admit to a fair degree of procrastination before starting to read The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor. I wasn't exactly enchanted by the idea of a book about fairies at the bottom of the garden. Yet as it turned out, enchanted is exactly what I was once I started reading. Though there was a magical element it was woven into the story so naturally I never felt forced to suspend disbelief. And, the icing on the cake was that this story was centred around some real events and contro
The Lit Bitch
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When you first glimpse the cover of this book, it doesn’t shout ‘magical realism’. It shouts ‘family saga’. At least to me it does.

Admittedly, I skimmed the review pitch very lightly and didn’t really pay close attention to it because like it or not, I knew I would review this one based on the cover and title.

It just sounded like a title that said ‘family saga’ in the vein of Kate Morton for some reason. Then you add in that cover and there you have it, I was convinced at face value that this wa
4.5 stars

This was a delightful read, drawing me in instantly and keeping me hooked the whole time! Frances was an enchanting narrator, I loved hearing things through her and seeing it as she did. My knowledge of the Cottingley fairies & pictures was very minimal previous to this. I, like any fairy-loving human, loved the way Hazel Gaynor wrote this book, making all the descriptions so vivid and lifelike, yet still giving us the ability to use our own imagination. There is also a contemporary sto
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being a Yorkshire lass, who is also half Irish, and having believed in fairies pretty much all my life, even before getting a tiny postage stamp sized letter from Fiona the tooth fairy when I was nine years old, I felt this book was made for me.

I imagine many readers will at least be aware of the old photographs of the Cottingley fairies. I remember seeing those photos from quite a young age, and have certainly seen a television programme or two about them. I loved how this story brought those
Pam Jenoff
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was inspired by the true story of two little girls in 1917 Yorkshire who convinced the world that the photo they snapped of fairies in the woods was real. The story toggles between the modern day when a woman discovers an manuscript in her grandfather's bookshop and the mystery of what really happened with the fairies a century earlier. Enchanting!
Julie Christine
In 1917, in the meadows and forests of northern England, two young girls photographed themselves with a collection of fairies. The photographs made their way into the world, causing a national sensation when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published them in 1920 to accompany an article about the existence of these fairies for Strand Magazine.

Hazel Gaynor's charming The Cottingley Secret fictionalizes the story of nine-year-old Frances Griffiths, who leaves South Africa with her mother at the start of WWI
Nancy Baker
Jun 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-goodreads
This was my second book by this author (the first being The Girl Who Came Home). They bear a striking resemblance but perhaps it is her style of writing. They are both historical fiction stories, both tie together a story from the past (one from 1912 and this one from 1917) with a present day person and both have female protagonists who are crying out for absolution. The main difference is that in The Girl Who Came Home her difficulty was the realization that due to an international disaster tha ...more
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

#20BACKLISTIN2020 Backlist Book Challenge #18

'Fairies will not be rushed. I know this now; know I must be patient.’

Magic, mystery, family secrets and fairies fill the pages of the fourth novel by historical fiction specialist Hazel Gaynor. A book shrouded in myth, speculation, innocence, curiosity and hope, The Cottingley Secret crosses the time of the Great War, through to the present day. There is no denying the allure of Hazel Gaynor’s 2017 release!

Dale Harcombe
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Back in 1917, two girls, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright, insist that something amazing has happened. They have photographed fairies, living in Cottingley near the waterfall. Are the fairies real or is this two imaginative girls playing a game? The photos are brought to the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Suddenly the photos that were intended purely for family, take on a life of their own. One hundred years later Olivia Kavanagh inherits, Something Old, her grandfather’s bookshop for ol ...more
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Five huggable stars!

"In belief, there is hope and wonder. In seeing, there is often question and doubt." A book to hug, a book to cherish. The Cottingley Secret is a captivating tale, bridging past and present into a beautiful, dreamy piece of historical fiction/fairytale.

England, 1917-- Two young girls photograph fairies. Are they real? The Cottingley Fairies soon spark mystery, intrigue and excitement. Even famed writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes enthralled and fully backs the girls' cl
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Hazel Gaynor is an award-winning New York Times, USA Today, Irish Times, and international bestselling author. Her 2014 debut THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME won the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award, A MEMORY OF VIOLETS was a 2015 WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY was shortlisted for the 201 Irish Book Awards, and THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER'S DAUGHTER was shortlisted for the 2019 HWA ...more

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