Thursday, October 04, 2018

The Cottingley Secret, by Hazel Gaynor

William Morrow, 2017
383 pages

In The Cottingley Secret, Hazel Gaynor reimagines the true story of cousins Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, who claimed to have photographed fairies in their garden, back in 1917. The girls and their photos caused a sensation in post-WWI England and even convinced Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of their validity. Gaynor alternates the tale of Frances and Elsie with that of present-day bookshop owner, Olivia Kavanagh, who discovers an old manuscript containing the hint of a connection between her family and the girls who photographed fairies.

Another book I read earlier this year, and I really thought I'd already reviewed it. But a little survey of the blog tells me that was not true. Brain fog, I guess.

It took me quite a while to finish this one. Couldn't get into the back-and-forth rhythm of the two different time periods, and ended up reading the last half of the book several months after starting it. But I did enjoy it, for the most part — had a little trouble with the "magical realism" of the story (it required a little more suspension of disbelief than I was prepared for). Overall, I thought it was a very intriguing take on the "fairy photo" girls and their story. I was impressed with the amount of research the author did and how she managed to tie it all in so creatively. And while I was at first put off by the present-day story of Olivia and her wedding angst, I actually became very fond of her as I got deeper into the book. Hazel Gaynor is a new author for me, but one I hope to meet again.


(Note: I received my copy of this book from the publisher, free of charge, through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program. No other compensation was received, and no one tried to influence my opinion of the book.)


Qualifies for the following reading challenges: Historical Fiction 2018; Mount TBR 2018.


  1. The two different time period thing is getting a little old to me. It has to be done well for me to love it these days. I may skip this one.

  2. Interesting... Gaynor is usually very clear with her writing. Thanks!


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