Based on the famous Cottingley fairies photographs, Hazel Gaynor’s gentle novel beautifully brings the past and the present together to create an evocative story about family and the power of believing in magic…

The cottingley secret

Hazel Gaynor’s fourth novel brings to life the true story behind the Cottingley fairies and the photographs taken by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths back in 1917, which turned into a phenomenon and led Arthur Conan Doyle to write ‘The Coming of the Fairies’.

The story is told through an old manuscript discovered by Olivia Kavanagh in her late grandfather’s book shop, leading her on her own journey on self-belief and helps her to take the courage to find a new adventure in her own life. Throughout, Gaynor effectively blends the past with the present that showcases the power of believing – whether it is magic and fairies or just having faith in yourself to create a novel that is both gentle and charming to read.

Much of the story is reliant on images and the author beautifully evokes images of the Cottingley beck that makes the reader feel as though they are there alongside Frances and Elsie, where there is a genuine feeling of magic in the area. As the story develops and Frances becomes uncomfortable with the growing fame that their photographs are achieving, the novel gets deeper and more emotionally complex as she tries to reconcile in her mind what she and Elsie has done.

Meanwhile, in the present day it could be said that the story between Frances and Olivia is similar emotionally as Olivia begins to long for a different way of life and freedom from her upcoming marriage as she tries to get her grandfather’s book shop and running again, as Frances in the past is longing for freedom from the association with the Cottingley fairy photographs – both sides of the story run in perfect harmony with each other.

Filled with plenty of magic and charm, this is an evocative story that has plenty to engage with from beginning to end. An ideal read for those with a fascination with magic and fairies.

The Cottingley Secret is available to buy now. 

Rating: ❤❤❤❤

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