Julie Christine's Reviews > The Cottingley Secret

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor
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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 to live with her mother's sister in Yorkshire while her father is at the front. Frances and her older, worldly cousin, Elsie, become fast friends, but Elsie is often away at work. Frances, an outcast at school, must fend for herself. On one of her solo perambulations in the forest, she encounters the fairies and her obsession pushes the loneliness aside.

One hundred years later, in a village just north of Dublin, Olivia Kavanaugh grieves her beloved grandfather. She's an accomplished book restorer in London, but she's miserable, living an inauthentic life, engaged to a man she reluctantly admits she doesn't love. Her grandfather has bequeathed her his bookstore, Something Old, that is filled with rare and second-hand books, hardly a recipe for success in a hyper-modern, digital world. He also left her the manuscript of a memoir written by Frances Griffiths recounting the discover and subsequent scandal of what become known as the Cottingley Fairies.

The Cottingley Secret is a curl-up-and-forget-the-world sort of read, an enchanting and delightful escape. A dash of history mixed with contemporary drama and a touch of romance is just the antidote for these cynical, selfish times. Gaynor's writing is lovely, moving fluidly between past and present, conveying a sense of wonder and possibility while remaining grounded in history and place. I simply adored this book.
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Reading Progress

January 3, 2018 – Started Reading
January 3, 2018 – Shelved
January 8, 2018 – Shelved as: best-of-2018
January 8, 2018 – Shelved as: british-isles-theme-setting
January 8, 2018 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
January 8, 2018 – Shelved as: ireland-theme-setting
January 8, 2018 – Shelved as: past-and-present-setting
January 8, 2018 – Shelved as: read-2018
January 8, 2018 – Finished Reading

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