The Cottingley Secret: A Novel

The Cottingley Secret: A Novel

by Hazel Gaynor


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“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?


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062690487
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/01/2017
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 1,003,732
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

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. In 2017, she has published The Cottingley Secret and Last Christmas in Paris. 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. Hazel lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.

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The Cottingley Secret: A Novel 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lots of surprises in this wonderful fairy story. I enjoyed every page!
BookwormMama2014 5 months ago
FAIRIES!!! Oh, this story was absolutely delightful. The mystery of the fairies and the charming romance simply swept me away. A time-slip story set in Ireland and England. A family secret. A darling family and a woman who finally decides to make her own her own mapmaker. Something Old Bookshop really makes me want to open my own bookshop now lol! I love the history, the stories, the magic that infuses the pages of this book. I listened to this story and the narrators (like the rest of Hazel Gaynor's narrators) are simply incredible. They really bring the story to life and make it feel like I could turn around and see real-life fairies. Gaynor's words and storytelling captivates and entrances to the point of obsession. So much so, that I have already pre-ordered her next release. I can't believe that I haven't read her books before...And thanks to my new book club, I now have a new favorite author. I listened to The Cottingley Secret through my local library. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Melisan More than 1 year ago
This is a charming book that was very satisfying to read.
Thebooktrail-com More than 1 year ago
Loved loved loved this book. It’s a about books,bookshops and fairies. The fairies which in 1917 two girls claimed to have seen dancing in the woods. They told their families the fairies existed and that they’d played with them and then the world found out and the rest is history. These kinds of moments are those I often dream about – what it would have been like to have lived at a time when such a compelling mystery was being played out? Well, thanks to Hazel Gaynor, I was there, played with those girls and the fairies myself, felt the magic, and smiled. Mixing this in with the present day mystery of a girl finding she’s been left a bookshop (hello was this book written for me?) and then a manuscript which leads her into her own mystery linked to Cottingley…. To say any more is to spoil things as you may know the story or parts of it, but have you ever been part of the story and seen the magic and mystery of the fairies themselves? This is like stepping through one of those fairy doors and discovering the truth and a wonderful story yourself, bringing those fairies back to life and revelling in the world of magic and belief. I love this. Gorgeous. Makes your reading mojo twinkle and smile
JAislynn More than 1 year ago
In the midst of war, two young girls find mystery and magic that will come to shake the world. The Cottingley Secret, as the name hints, is a tale about the two young girls of Cottingley who photographer fairies on summer in the middle of the Great War. This story is actually two in one. Part follows Frances, as she recounts her experiences that summer via a manuscript. The other follows Olivia, who’s in Ireland after her grandfather passed. She has inherited his bookshop, Something Old, and his house. Olivia has also inherited Frances’ manuscript. As she gets the shop in order, cleans out the house and puts it to market, and makes frequent visits to see her Nana, who lives in a faculty for dementia, Olivia rads the manuscript, and struggles to find herself. She's trapped in an impending marriage that she knows will fail. Can fairy magic of ages past help set Olivia free? This book made me cry in several places. I empathize with Olivia, not having the chance to speak to her grandparents about their younger years. You always mean to, feel for sure there'll be time, and there is...til there isn't. I wish I had learned more of my grandmother's time growing up in a large family, of my grandfather's time during WWII, and Korea, of the young family that shaped my father's personality. All three are gone now, and that door has closed. It is a book with the weight of history to it, for while Olivia’s story may not be part of our world, Frances and Elsie certainly were. I gained a greater appreciation for the historical dynamics behind why these photos garnered so much attention, and belief they were real was so strong. It gave me a greater understanding of why Sir Arthur Conan Doyle endorsed the photos, for I've always struggled to reconcile how the man who introduced us to Sherlock Holmes could bounce so far the other direction, from logic to whimsy. People needed wonder, beauty, and innocence to cling to during/ after the Great War, and many found it in the notion of fairies. Yes, the photos may have been a hoax, but I believe Frances’ story, that she really saw something wondrous that summer. Something fragile and precious. And it's what Olivia needed as well. She found courage and grace, and learned to trust her intuition. This saved her from a loveless marriage of 'safety’ on convenience. It allowed her to reclaim part of her lost heritage, as she learned of Mrs Hogan and Aisling. Sidenote- I love that the name Aisling was used. It is the Gaelic form of my Welsh-derived name- Aislynn. It means 'dream, vision’, and was so appropriate to this story. Both stories were equally captivating, and I thoroughly lost myself reading this book. You are left to decide for yourself if the fairy magick is real. I believe! (This would be a great book club reading choice, especially for historical fiction.) ***This book was reviewed for the Manhattan Book Review.
JustCommonly More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars 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. This review first appeared on Just Commonly blog. 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.
FrancescaFB More than 1 year ago
A childhood prank by two girls on their parents ends up going global. No one was ever quite sure what to believe. Some didn’t believe, but many did believe in the magic, for it became a hope – it became “what do you believe?” Hazel Gaynor creates another masterful story based upon the events in Cottingley and the citings of the fairies.
LauraEG26 More than 1 year ago
"The Cottingley Secret" shares the true story of England's "Yorkshire Fairies" that peeked the interests of many during World War I, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The story is now entering into it's 100th year which has prompted Hazel Gaynor to research and share through the fictional eyes of Olivia. Olivia begins the story after her Grandfather passes and receives the story of Frances Griffiths. As Olivia struggles to find herself, she begins to gain hope from Frances' account of the fairies in Cottingley. I struggled to continue reading the story in the beginning due to the seemingly excessive descriptions but began to appreciate it as the story progressed. It was also difficult to overcome the ridiculous 21st century-ism "went missing" in a story supposedly written in the early 20th century which would have used the correct word "disappeared." Overall, Olivia's discovery of herself and how her life entwines with Frances' gives readers continued hope in life, explained or not. The frequent mention of Frances' favorite book, "Water Babies", and it's conclusion is what truly brings this story to life as it explains the true story behind as "only fun and pretense." My opinion is solely my own, but I do want to thank Goodreads, William Morrow Imprint, and Hazel Gaynor for a copy of such an amazing book. Had I not received this copy, I never would have read such an amazing book, but I will certainly be researching the "Yorkshire Fairies" and reading more of Hazel Gaynor's books.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
Do you believe in fairies? There are those that believe that just because you might have never seen them, doesn't mean they don't exist, even for those who have claimed to have seen them. Until I picked up The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor, I had never heard of the Cottingley fairies and thus this is what excited me about this book. It is written in two time periods, one present day and the other a story read by the present day Olivia Kavanagh about the two young girls who played a prank that last more than 70 years. The story was written by Frances Griffiths in 1917-1924 which later became its own published work entitled Notes on a Fairy Tale. It would be published until many years later but it was the story of how Frances first found the fairies while sitting in a beck near a waterfall and caught them out of the corner of her eye. She knew without proof no one would believe her and like most 9-year-old girls at the time, she desperately wanted to tell her oldest cousin Elsie. It was Elsie's idea to stage a stunt using her talented artistic skills in creating such life like details of fairies and stage a photo to look like Frances was interacting with them right in front of her. It was enough to convince her Aunt and Uncle as well as her own mother that fairies did exist and just outside their back door. For others in the Cottingley village it gave them hope at a time when the world was dealing with the war not knowing if husbands, fathers or sons would be returning. It is the very reason that Frances and her mother came to stay at the Cottingley cottage. To wait out the return of her father and husband from the war going on. Even well reknown Arthur Conan Doyle was convinced that the photographs of the fairies were proof they existed. As Olivia Kavanagh takes over the inheritance left to her by her grandfather, an old bookstore with the name of Something Old, it is a place that draws a different life for Olivia. Believing that her future is already planned out with a future fiancè in London, she finds herself more drawn into the fairy story that she is reading bit by bit along with visiting her grandmother in a nursing home suffering from dementia whose time is very limited. She only hopes that in the weeks to come she can make headway to figure out how to make the bookstore profitable again and what to do with the blue cottage that her grandparents made a life together in. She is slowly running out of time, if only magic was real and the wishes of fairies could make it all better. I received The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers. This is such an enchanting book from falling in love with all the things you'd be expected to find in an old bookstore to the enchanted life of two girls looking for magic and hope in world filled with fear and uncertainty. I really LOVED this entire book and the way it toggled between the time periods drew me in even further. The details that follow in the author notes and the photos that captivated a world during the war really completed the entire story for me. It does beg to ask the question, do you believe in fairies? There are plenty of people on both sides that could argue their point very convincingly, but just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. For me, this one easily garners a 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion. There are some great insights and discussion questions at the conclusion of this novel