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Monday, August 7, 2017

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Hazel Gaynor's latest, The Cottingley Secret.

In 1917, two young girls conceived of a prank so elaborate it would entrance a nation. Cousins Elsie and Frances, armed with a camera and an imagination, took a series of five photographs in which they claimed to have found and frolicked with fairies! And while the first four images were proven to be fakes, the fifth was never analyzed. 

A century later, Olivia Kavanagh has inherited her grandfather's old bookshop in Ireland. Still grieving the lost of her beloved grandfather, she is gifted, alongside the key to said store, a story. A fairy tale of sorts - except this tale is that of the Cottingley Fairies, written by Frances herself. From the first pages, Olivia, who has always been enchanted by stories of the fae, is drawn in completely. And when she finds a sixth photograph, one no one has ever mentioned in the hub bub around this historical prank, she begins to wonder if their might be some truth to the story. 

So even after tackling the Titanic, I think this may be my very favorite of all of Hazel Gaynor's books so far. I don't recall when I first heard about the Cottingley Fairies myself, but it is definitely a story that has always intrigued me. First and foremost, the fact that two little girls could have so captured a country's attention with what was admittedly a prank. They even caught the eye of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself, you know of Sherlock Holmes fame!

What I find most intriguing about the story of Olivia and her grandmother and Elsie and Frances is that Gaynor was able to speak to Frances's own daughter in the course of researching and writing the book. The author's note at the end includes a piece written by Christine Lynch, who believes there was some truth to her mother's stories. In fact, it's her hope that the fifth (because there isn't a sixth) image will one day be analyzed and prove that not all the pictures the girls took were fakes.

What a great story, right? I mean the fact that people put stock in what these two girls claimed in the first place, which, as Gaynor points out, is due in large part to the morale of the nation in the wake of WWI. But that even Doyle himself fell for the ruse is amazing to me. He even ran the pictures in his magazine!

But that's enough about the context. What about the book, you're probably asking? Well, it's true to Gaynor's previous outings - excellent research and fantastic attention to detail. Which set the scene and make the story one that feels authentic and, whether you believe the girls' tale or not, real.

And of course there's Olivia as our driving force behind the story. Olivia who, from the opening pages, is clearly a woman open to the fantastical. And a woman who is deeply grieving. So of course the Cottingley Fairies is exactly the kind of story that would draw her in.

Add to that the fact that the story also revolves around an old bookshop and never before read manuscripts and you have what is a pretty perfect recipe for a book any true book lover will fall head over heels for!

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Hazel Gaynor and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


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