Title: The Cottingley Secret
Author: Hazel Gaynor
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: August 1, 2017
Source: TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "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?"
My Two Cents:
"The Cottingley Secret" is a story told in two times. The past involves a set of young cousins that fool everyone around them, including famous Arthur Conan Doyle, that they have seen fairies and have photographic evidence. In the present day, Olivia inherits some papers of her grandfather's that refer to fairies. Olivia is struggling with her personal life so she throws herself headfirst into trying to figure out the secrets that the past is hiding.
This is very much a character driven novel. I really liked Olivia! She is going through a lot and has so much to work through. I loved seeing how she gets caught up in the mystery of her grandfather's past (who could help themselves really though). Also, she inherits a bookstore (this is a bit of a side story in the book but one that I loved. who doesn't want to own a book store?).
I also really liked Frances, one of the two cousins in the past part of the book. Frances really wants to believe but she has questions about what is real and unreal. She struggles between telling the truth and letting everyone believe a fantasy, a very beautiful fantasy. It was interesting to see how she struggles with this. It felt like a very real struggle - of course, we want to be truthful (most of us anyway) but there is temptation in embellishing and adding sparkle to where there is none. Frances is just learning how to navigate that choice.
I really enjoyed this tale! You all already know that I love historical fiction and I definitely enjoy a bit of the unreal in my reading. I really liked how the author takes us through the back-and-forth thought processes of both Frances and Olivia. Both characters are concerned about majorly different things but both of their concerns really come down to each of them following their heart.