The Cottingley Secret: A Novel by Hazel GaynorThe Cottingley Secret: A Novel by Hazel Gaynor

The Cottingley Secret: A Novel

byHazel Gaynor

Paperback | April 5, 2019

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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?


Hazel Gaynor’s debut novel The Girl Who Came Home—A Novel of the Titanic—was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. And her second novel A Memory of Violets also hit the New York Times bestseller list. She was the recipient of the 2012 Cecil Day Lewis award for Emerging Writers and was selected by Library Journal as one of Ten Big ...
Title:The Cottingley Secret: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.94 inPublished:April 5, 2019Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:006249984X

ISBN - 13:9780062499844

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Enchanting Read! "A little white lie, told for good reason, became a story in itself. A story that has endured for decades." - Hazel Gaynor In 1917, two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright living in Cottingley, England become a national sensation with their series of five photographs of fairies. It begins as an innocent way to help Frances to stay out of trouble but escalates into something magnanimous, even grabbing the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Both cousins promise each other not to reveal the secret of The Cottingley Fairies and in a time of war and desperation where people need hope and something to believe in, the secret not only stays hidden but lasted for 70 years. 100 years later, Olivia Kavanagh inherits Something Old, her grandfather's bookshop in Ireland. Besides the hundreds of typed pages with the title "Notes of Fairy Tale by Frances Griffiths," she discovers old articles written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with photographs of fairies, where one of the photographs is the same photo she seen in her mother's jewelry box. Thus, Olivia begins her journey to discover the truth about The Cottingley Fairies, and her connection with the Cottingley cousins. This is an enchanting and magical read, blending fact and fiction together which is masterfully told by Gaynor. She takes a brilliant fictional approach to this historical event and is known as one of the world's famous hoaxes. The past and present, fact and fiction weaves together seamlessly. Gaynor, using her imagination and creativity explains away how and why the story lasted for decades, and it made total sense. I think it was cleverly done! As always Gaynor's mellifluous and atmospheric writing never ceases to amaze me. This story transports me back to 1917 Cottingley. Her descriptions of the beck, streams, valley, and so forth are just marvelous! "At the bottom of the ravine was a glittering stream, about two feet in depth and six feet wide. A waterfall plunged from a shelf of shale rock to the right, tumbling in three broad steps toward the stream, where the water bubbled ad boiled. Dappled shade from the trees cast intriguing shadows onto the water, while the flickering sunlight painted the early spring foliage in shades of gold and emerald and soft buttery yellow." - page 55, hardcover I absolutely enjoyed the mesmerizing storytelling! Albeit the slow pace, the right amount of mystery and suspense held my interest. I was enamored with the whole plot right from the beginning. Moreover this story has no plot holes! Everything was well-explained and has closure. My kind of story! I enjoyed The Cottingley Secret immensely. It is beautifully written, and I was spellbound by Gaynor's storytelling and the Cottingley fairies. It is a moving tale of love and hope - generational love that is strengthened by a secret and hope in a time of war, grief and brokenness. An enchanting and mesmerizing read indeed! My favourite quotes: "Memory is a wonderful gift, which is why it is so cruel to watch someone try to live without it." "Our greatest struggles gives us the greatest rewards." "He loved that shop, loved those books like his own children." "We can't always change the situations life puts us in, but we can change the way we respond."
Date published: 2018-08-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful Cover The Cottingley Secret is really well portrayed by the front cover: it's a magical and just a really pleasant read, and such a breath of fresh air after a few books with heavy themes. Although it touches on war, loss, and grief, the overall feel of the book doesn't pull you down - it's hopeful. I loved how the story connected all the women in Olivia's family. For this reason, it would be the perfect book to read with your mom/sister/grandma/aunt/daughter, or to give as a gift. The Cottingley Secret reminded me of The Bookshop on the Corner and The Thirteenth Tale, so if you liked those, I think you'll probably like this book too!
Date published: 2018-05-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not into it I wish I could say why, but this novel didn't pull me in. I struggled to find any real magic in the writing or anything to keep me committed to the story. The time jumping was 'okay', but I did get confused by voices a couple of times and where we were/who was talking now/why. It felt a little too 'once upon a time' for me on occasion, pulling Sir Arthur Conan Doyle into it. Just... yeah. Fell flat with the two women's tales and ultimately, I suppose, a story line that didn't grip me.
Date published: 2018-05-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful Have you ever seen that really old picture of a young girl in a forest, surrounded by fairies? When it was taken, the entire world debated if it was real. The Cottingley Secret is a really sweet contemporary novel that revisits the story behind the photo with a unique, time-jumping plot. There are two different stories in this novel - Frances in 1917 and Olivia in 2017; they share a unique link that ties them together. Time-jumping in a novel can be problematic if not done well, but in this case Gaynor pulled it off. It's a nice, light book with an absolutely gorgeous setting - that bookshop is my dream! And the bit of forest that Frances explores sounds heavenly. Most of the characters were pretty solid, although Olivia's fiancé was a bit flat. I suppose that was to be expected - he wasn't supposed to be likable. But I think it went a bit too far and made him into a caricature. One bit that really hit me hard was the Alzheimer's subplot. Gaynor's approach was really well done. Her insightfulness and sensitivity make me want to check out her other titles. 4/5
Date published: 2018-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful This is the first novel I have read from Hazel Gaynor and I must say it was very interesting and well written. It was engaging and I look forward to reading more by this author.
Date published: 2018-03-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from now i'm sure plugged thru, absolutely loved it! I do believe in fairies :)
Date published: 2017-12-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from still not sure I'm only 80 pages in, started it about 2 weeks ago, it still hasn't gripped me yet, I hope to plug on thru
Date published: 2017-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!! I've been intrigued by the story of the Cottingley fairies since I was child, and reading this wonderfully-written novel truly revitalized my fascination and enchantment. Can't recommend it enough!
Date published: 2017-10-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lovely Based on a true story involving Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, this follows two girls who claim to have photographed fairies during the Second World War.
Date published: 2017-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lovely and magical Based on a true story involving Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, this follows two girls who claim to have photographed fairies during the Second World War.
Date published: 2017-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this story!! Loosely based on a true story involving Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, this magical story delighted me so much that I must have a copy for my home library as it's worth reading again.
Date published: 2017-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Delightful and Wonderful!! Oh my gosh, how to describe this book, it was delightful and wonderful. I loved the writing and the way the stories were told. I loved all the characters and each had their role in creating such great stories. I loved it, can't wait for the release of this author's next book.
Date published: 2017-09-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Liked it This is a very well written book, and although fairly well paced I enjoyed taking my time and delving into the plot and characters
Date published: 2017-09-13

Editorial Reviews

“Hazel Gaynor brings the mystery of the Cottingley Fairies thrillingly to life…A mystery, a love story, and an enchanting and surprising journey of self-discovery, The Cottingley Secret unwraps the true story behind one of the great hoaxes of the 19th century while still allowing the possibility of the magical.”