Hazel Gaynor's fourth novel is based around the amazing true story of Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths; young cousins in Cottingley Yorkshire who in 1917 claimed to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden. The girls take the photographs for their own amusement but nothing stays a secret in Cottingley for long and soon the whole village is talking. In the aftermath of war people need something to believe in and soon the girls and their photos and the Yorkshire fairies are the subject of newspaper and magazine articles and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sends them cameras to take more pictures, but what is the truth? Hazel Gaynor weaves this true story with the fictional tale of Olivia Kavanagh in 2017, who inherits her grandfather's bookshop in Howth. Olivia discovers a manuscript at the bookshop written by Frances which tells the truth of the Cottingley Secret. Olivia is captivated by the story and getting caught up in the mystery means she can avoid having to make decisions about her future. She is due to be married in a few weeks time, her fiancee, her job and her life are all in London but the pull of the bookshop, her ailing grandmother, her childhood home in Howth and the mystery of her mother's death are all keeping her from moving forward. This is a beautifully written book, both strands of the story are utterly compelling. Hazel Gaynor is a fantastic storyteller. The Cottingley Secret will appeal to fans of Kate Quinn, Tracy Rees, Katherine Webb and Gill Paul.
This is one of my most anticipated books of the year and finally this Thursday September 7th it goes on sale in Ireland. Published by Harper Collins who kindly sent me a copy for review.