Thursday, September 28, 2017

Review: The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor (audio)

Title: The Cottingley Secret
Author: Hazel Gaynor
Narrator: Karen Cass, Billie Fullford-Brown
Published: August 2017, Harper Audio / William Morrow Paperbacks
Length: 11 hours 2 minutes / 416 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC Paperback via Publisher

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?

My thoughts: It's no secret that I am a HUGE fan of Hazel Gaynor's books - I just love getting lost in her books and that is exactly what I find when I pick one up...I am completely immersed in her stories. This latest one was so magical it was easy to get caught up in the characters and setting - and I loved it!

I have to admit, I did not know anything about the Cottingley Fairies prior to reading this book, but I loved the way Hazel Gaynor was able to weave fact with fiction in this enchanting tale. Using a dual narrative she is able to tell a compelling story involving engaging characters that will endear themselves to you.

The characters in this book are so well-drawn. There are times when you are drawn more to one story line than the other, but in this case, I was equally entranced with both. I found the idea of being left a bookstore to be so heavenly - what book lover wouldn't? And Olivia is just the person to bring this old bookstore back to life. Of course, Elsie and Frances's tale is just as captivating. Who would have thought that two little girls, bored and just trying to have a little fun would have caught the attention of a war-torn country and brought a little joy in a time it was so desperately wanted.

But what I love about these types of books, and this one in particular, is the way the story lines intertwine. You are never quite sure how it will happen, and yet you know at some point they are going to. This is what I love about these books...when the secrets and the connections start to reveal themselves. And the way that connection is made here is just brilliant. I loved it!!!

This book has just the right amount of history and whimsical magic to make it a reading pleasure. It has so many different themes running through it from memories lost and found, to believing in oneself to even believing in magic and the wonder of the world around us. It is truly an enchanting read. And but sure to read the author's note - it contains some of Hazel's notes and even photos - great stuff!!!


Audio thoughts: Both of these narrators are new to me, but I thought they each did a great job bringing this story to life! I really enjoyed listening to this story on audio - as I have with each of Hazel Gaynor's books I've read - something about her books just seems to translate well into an audio experience and this one, coupled with these two narrators makes for a really good experience! The accents seemed to be genuine and the pacing throughout was just right. 


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