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The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor
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The Cottingley Secret

by Hazel Gaynor

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a wonderful book on the true story of two cousins who claimed to have photographed fairies in the glen near their home in England back in 1917. What starts as a harmless hoax, suddenly becomes a big event when word of the photographs spreads and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle even writes about the authenticity of the photographs.
Part of the story takes place in modern times. Olivia finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather's bookstore. The book then goes back a hundred years ago to when Elsie and Frances took their photographs. It was really interesting to read about how these fairy photographs got started and how both girls really did not want all the attention that followed them. A fascinating read into how a nation still in mourning after the war was ready to believe in the magic of fairies.
I received a complimentary copy from Librarything Early Reviewers. ( )
  melaniehope | Jun 21, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Review based on ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy received for free in exchange for an honest review).

This is one of those books that explores a historical event---in this case, one that happens to be true---from the perspective of a present day woman exploring her past and coming to terms with her life. The historical event is the photographing of fairies by Frances Griffiths and her cousin Elsie Wright in Cottingley. Starting in the early 1920s, Frances and Elsie sparked worldwide interest and debate regarding both whether fairies are real and, in any case, whether they'd in fact been photographed by the girls. This book considers the perspective of Frances in the form of a memoir read by someone (Olivia) in present time. (Exactly 100 years after Frances first saw the fairies in 1917.)

Olivia is a young woman who has just lost her grandfather and is attending his funeral in Ireland. He has left her the memoir in his passing, along with his house, his bookstore, the care of her grandmother with Alzheimer's, and some debt that he'd failed to mention. Olivia unfortunately has a bit of a jerk of a fiancé back in London and a life there that she's increasingly interested in abandoning.

As Olivia reads the memoirs to herself and her grandmother, she learns more about what matters and what is really important in life, not to mention the Cottingley secret and perhaps even a snippet of her own ancestry.

It was an interesting story, well told and pretty well paced. I often didn't love Gaynor's use of metaphor -- what others have found poetic, I have found clunky and oddly cliched (the metaphors seemed to highlight the cliched feelings/thoughts in their attempt to obfuscate them). I also found some of the contradictions annoying (the biggest one being that the memoir was left for Olivia in a package from her grandfather, as noted in the beginning, and discovered by Olivia in the store after is passing, as stated about halfway through). But overall, despite these hitches, I still found the book enjoyable and interesting. I also thought Gaynor did a great job with the family dynamics and reveals. I almost found Olivia's story more interesting than Frances... it was nice that the story (Olivia's) created for the purpose of exploring a different story (Frances) was independently interesting and engaging.

So all in all, some history, light romance, fairies, family and self discovery, and a quaint Irish seaside town made for an enjoyable read.

I wish we rated books on a 10-point scale. Because it's not a 6 (the equivalent of a 3/5), but it's not an 8 either. It's about a 7, maybe a little higher. Because it was an enjoyable read, I'll round to the next up: 4. ( )
  avanders | Jun 13, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Some time ago, after reading about the Cottigley fairies online, I read The Coming of the Fairies - The Cottingley Incident by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I have read various stories and articles, and so this was a choice I made enthusiastically. It can be very difficult to retell a story. buy Gaynore did a good job. Three stars is a good read. This is a book I'm glad that I chose to read.

This is the story of Elsie and Frances and their shenanigans with the fairies. It's a new take on the story and it was well one. i particularly enjoyed reading the verbal exchanges between the two girls in private, and hearing their thoughts when alone.

The back story of Olivia and the book shop was most likely my favorite part. I liked the freshness of it, and the characters, and the way that stories intertwined. I would recommend this to the right reader with no qualms at all. ( )
  mckait | May 29, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. I have read other books by Hazel Gaynor so was thrilled when I found out I had one this book. And after reading even more of a fan of Ms. Gaynor.

The Cottingley Secret is a fictionalized account of the true story of two girls who take pictures of fairies, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's involvement and the controversy that results over a period of years. Ms. Gaynor gives two points-of-view, one from Olivia a woman of the present who is home in Ireland to take care of her recently-deceased grandfather's affairs and the other is from Frances, one of the girls caught up in the fairy controversy.

What I loved most about this book was that I could hear the characters voices in my head, they all had such a clear presence. Of course as a long-time reader/believer in fairy tales and magic I loved the magic that was woven though out the book. Ms. Gaynor reminds us to live life and consider that faeries and magic can exist if we believe. ( )
  mmoj | May 28, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I really enjoyed this book. I loved learning about the Cottingley fairy pictures and both main characters, Frances and Olivia, were interesting and likeable. The author made Howth and Cottingley come alive with her beautiful descriptions of the landscape. I also liked that so much of Olivia's story takes place in an old bookshop. As an avid reader that shop sounded like a dream come true. I appreciated that there was a good love story in this book, but that ultimately connecting with her family and her past in order to be at peace was Olivia's priority. Having said that I loved the characters of Ross and Iris. I would highly recommend this book. It contains a lot of heartbreak but it left me with a very pleasant and hopeful feeling in the end. ( )
  AliciaClark23 | May 28, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 006249984X, Paperback)

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?

 

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 12 Mar 2017 09:33:59 -0400)

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