Because the world was still at war, we needed to believe in something better. In that moment, and perhaps for much longer, it seemed to me that the possibility of believing in fairies was more important that one little girl telling the truth. – The Cottingley Secret, Hazel Gaynor
Does magic really exist? In The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor, two girls somehow convince the world that magic does indeed exist. Read on for our review of the newest novel from this internationally bestselling author!
The clock is turned back one hundred years to 1917, a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Hazel Gaynor reimagines their mystical story in an inventive, fascinating, and page-turning manner.
Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright, two young cousins, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden. Their parents are astonished. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, one of the great novelists of the time, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation. This discovery offers hope to those longing for something to believe in while they get by in a world ravaged by war.
And so Frances and Elsie plan to hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.
Flash forward 100 years later to present-day, when Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop (hello, who doesn’t love a book with an old bookshop in it!?!? Can someone leave their bookshop to me?? Thanks!). She becomes fascinated by the story, but it’s the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers. As Olivia begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, she wonders if she can find a way to believe in herself.
I adored this book and learning about the Cottingley fairies. I was fascinated to learn that it was all based on a legitimately famous story (I had no idea!). I love how real Frances and Elsie were, and even Olivia. The alternating storylines gave the book a nice twist, and kept me turning the pages to uncover the secrets and surprising connections.
One thing I’ll never get tired of is how Hazel Gaynor’s books, and historical fiction in general, have a way of transporting you to another place and time. Learning about the era and the effect these fairies had on WWI in England was just so interesting.
The Cottingley Secret is more than just a story about the fairies. It’s a friendly reminder to keep your eyes open to magic every single day.