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The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

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Article by Swirl And Thread ©.
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‘Some secrets last a lifetime. Some last even longer…..’

The Cottingley Secret is the new release from best selling author Hazel Gaynor. Just published by Harper Collins, The Cottingley Secret is a novel based around true events that took place in a small village in Yorkshire in 1917. It is Hazel Gaynor’s fourth novel and in her own words ‘perhaps more than any other, the one I was always meant to write.’

I fell in love with this book from the stunning cover alone and was delighted with the opportunity to read it.

Please do read on for my thoughts and escape into the world of the fairies…

We have a resident fairy living in our house whose name is Bella. She resides behind a beautiful red door in my daughter’s bedroom. Notes are written to Bella with such care and attention. Raisins and Cheerios are carefully placed in shells and left outside her door as special party treats for Bella and her fairy friends. We believe in fairies in my house. There is magic associated with these mystical beings and I hope that this magic remains forever in my daughter’s heart.

When I heard that Hazel Gaynor was writing a novel about the infamous Cottingley Fairies, I was intrigued and excited to get my hands on a copy. Can I just say, this book did not disappoint.

There is something very beautiful in escaping into the imagination of a child. One cannot help but be enlightened by the experience.

The Cottingley Secret was written with the blessing of Christine Lynch, the daughter of Frances Griffiths, one of the children involved in the story of 1917.

Hazel Gaynor has taken the story of Frances Griffith and her cousin Elsie Wright and has woven an enchanting story filled with hope and optimism around their spectacular tale.

Frances (age 9) and Elsie (age 16) were two cousins living together during the First World War in the village of Cottingley. Frances and her mother arrived there from their home in Cape Town, South Africa for the duration of the war. Frances’s father was now away fighting and it was thought they would be safer living with her mother’s sister and family. Elsie is her older cousin but from the very beginning the two girls develop a very close relationship and it’s not long before they get up to mischief.

Up behind their home was a beck where the sounds of the waterfall kept Frances awake at night. Her interest was piqued from the beginning as Elsie described this place to her. On her first trip there Frances describes it: ‘At the bottom of the ravine was a glittering stream, about two feet in depth and six feet wide. A waterfall plunged from the shelf of shale rock to the right, tumbling in three broad steps toward the stream, where the water bubbled and boiled. Dappled shade from the trees cast intriguing shadows onto the water, while the flickering sunlight painted the earlier spring foliage in shades of gold and emerald and soft buttery yellow. “Oh Elsie!” I whispered. “It’s lovely.”’

This is a place where serenity exists and for Frances it is where she experiences an overwhelming sensation of a magical presence. For Frances, this is a place where the fairies live. Frances and Elsie decide to ‘photograph’ these fairies and in doing so they set upon a course that will impact them for the remainder of their lives. A childish notion became a worldwide sensation in a society that needed to believe in something good, something magical and the story became known as The Cottingley Fairies.

Hazel Gaynor carries this fascinating story forward one hundred years to a small bookshop in Co. Dublin.

Olivia Kavanagh has come home from London to attend the funeral of her beloved grandfather. Her grandmother is in a nursing home with Alzheimers, so it is to Olivia that her grandfather leaves his bookshop. Olivia is in a state of flux in her life at the moment. Torn between her life in London and the expectations that she has left there and now the discovery that she is the owner of a bookshop, Olivia is all confused.

Olivia has had a quite a sad history, in that her mother passed away when she was young, leaving Olivia in the care of her grandparents. Now feeling a little lost and alone, Olivia has some major decisions to make that will affect all areas of her life. A chance discovery of an old photograph and what appears to be a manuscript of a book sets Olivia on a journey that will change the course of her life forever.

As she delves deeper into the story of The Cottingley Fairies and how this photograph came to be in the possession of her grandfather, Olivia’s search leads her to a very charming and very special discovery.

The Sunday Independent describes The Cottingley Secret as ‘sumptuous, gorgeous, authentic and surprising’ and I would agree with every word. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I love historical fiction, so the story of The Cottingley Fairies was one I really enjoyed delving into. It is a fascinating tale and Hazel Gaynor’s adaptation of it into this wonderful book is very unique.

An alluring, entrapping tale of magic and mysticism that evokes visions of a world where good things happen to those who believe . . .

(c) Swirl And Thread

Order your copy online here.


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