Hazel Gaynor’s novel is filled with glamour and heartache as beneath the dazzle and sparkle of the theatre world four characters try to deal with the aftermath of the First World War.
Dolly Lane is a dreamer; a downtrodden maid who longs to dance on the London stage, but the outbreak of war takes everything from her: Teddy, the man she loves – and her hopes of a better life.
When she secures employment as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, Dolly’s proximity to the dazzling guests makes her yearn for a life beyond the grey drudgery she was born into. Her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to an unusual newspaper advert and finds herself thrust into the heady atmosphere of London’s glittering theatre scene and into the sphere of the celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry.
Set during the aftermath of the First World War, Hazel Gaynor’s The Girl from the Savoy combines the glamorous world of the theatre and show business in the 1920’s with the bittersweetness that the war has left behind for many people to great effect.
Each chapter focuses on each of the main characters to allow the reader to really get to know the key characters intimately as well offering an insight into how the the war has affected each of them differently, despite the years that have passed.
Throughout it all, Hazel Gaynor’s writing is vivid and shows great understanding and knowledge of the era in which she is writing about – including incidents in which unmarried mothers had to give their babies up for adoption and the little understood condition post traumatic stress. But she is able to combine this with the toughness of the theatre world as well as the glamour with great style that really whisks the reader back to the 1920’s.
With everything new that the reader learns about the characters, whether it is Perry’s horrifying part he played during the war , Teddy’s lack of memory or Dolly’s guilt at moving forward with her life – everything has been written with great heart and emotion that is beautiful to read. You believe in how badly their personal demons are affecting their lives and you really desire for them to find the courage to pick themselves up and carry on.
Everything about The Girl from the Savoy really captures the changing times of the 1920’s but it also reveals the lasting scars of war on countless people – whether they were rich and famous or poor and humble. War might have been the one thing that linked them all together, but it also shows that no matter what happens there is always hope, compassion and understanding to be found in the most unexpected places.
But it never flinches away from the trauma of what the likes of Loretta and Teddy suffered from different perspectives of the war. It is a sharp, realistic and powerfully described unflinchingly – written with frankness but not unsympathetically.
The Girl from the Savoy is a wonderfully vivid and heartfelt novel filled with wonderful images and characters who the reader can really engage with from beginning to end. A must read for anyone with a dream of a better life.
The Girl from the Savoy is available to buy now.