Review: The Cottingley Secret
The first time I heard Hazel Gaynor’s name was a few years ago when Writing.ie held a few online classes. One of their guests for their historical fiction panel (if I recall correctly) was Gaynor. Gaynor is now one of the most recognized names within the historical fiction genre but at the time of the class, she had recently had her self-published novel, The Girl Who Came Home, picked up by a traditional publisher. Gaynor’s novels have been on my to-read list ever since.
Published last summer, The Cottingley Secret includes dual timelines: one in present-day Ireland and one in 1917 England. In the present, the reader follows a young woman dealing with sudden dramatic changes in her life and the decisions she makes to be true to herself. Intertwined with her life, unknown to her, is the story of the Cottingley fairies. The 1917 story takes place as two cousins in a small English village pulled off one of the most famous photography hoaxes of all time, flinging the two girls into unwanted spotlight.
Gaynor’s writing is lovely and charming. You really get pulled into the dynamics of the two idyllic settings. If this book were a beverage, it would be a steamy cup of cocoa.
And I mean, it includes a bookshop. What reader doesn’t love a book featuring a bookshop?!
There were a few details about the present-day timeline that bugged me, mostly relating to the character of Olivia and her distaste for getting things done, but that might be related to my deep-seated obsession with to-do lists.
The Cottingley Secret, like the wings of the fairies featured in the book, is delicate and pretty.
It’s strange. The story didn’t relate to anything terribly dramatic or life-threatening and yet I whipped through this book fairly quickly, regularly reading over lunch breaks and late into the night. It’s a good snuggle-down-with-a-book read and I definitely intend on getting to those other Hazel Gaynor books on my list.
RATING: 4/5 stars
Jillianne Hamilton is the author of Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire, its two action/comedy sequels, and The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII. She is also a graphic designer, a history enthusiast, and a dog mom. Learn more.