The Cottingley Secret

The Cottingley Secret

A Novel

Book - 2017
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1917... It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true--didn't it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs' authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told. One hundred years later... When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather's bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls' lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?
Publisher: New York, NY :, William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers,, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780062499844
Branch Call Number: FIC GAYN
Characteristics: 383 pages, 16 pages ; 24 cm


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Nov 01, 2020

Perhaps I wasn't in the right frame of mind. I never did finish it —just skimmed the last third and then tossed it aside. It read like a well written stereotypical Hallmark Channel movie of the week script. I may recommend it to those who like Harlequin Romances.

Jun 19, 2020

I will not go into many details because I believe most people are already familiar with the famous fairy hoax. However, I would like to point out why I found this book so interesting and gave it five stars. First of all, the style is very engaging and it is a pleasure to read this book. We are brought back in time and participate in the two girls' life and feelings. WWI is going on and fear and uncertainty are palpable. The fact that Cottingley is in Yorkshire, a place very dear to my heart, certainly helped. Secondly, the story is based on the memories of Frances Griffiths, one of the two girls who created and then photographed cut outs of the fairies. Frances died still affirming that one photo was not a hoax and that she truly saw fairies. The author, Hazel Gaynor, actually met and collaborated with Frances' daughter, and her research was thorough. This book is about fairies and in a sense it reads as a fairy tale. We need to keep our fantasy and imagination alive, especially in times of sadness and fear.

Feb 25, 2020

Could have been a short story.

Nov 12, 2019

Such an enjoyable read; the author has brought to life the people of Yorkshire in a wonderful blend of old and new; an old bookstore, and a blending of superstitions, struggles, romance and a secret that to this day is up for question. Suitable for everyone and positively recommend it.

Oct 28, 2019

Not worthy of the length read. Should have been edited down to a finer story.

Do you believe in fairies? Could you? If you have ever had thoughts of garden nymphs and fairies, this is the book for you. Written in two timelines, both tell the story of hope and believing in yourself and sometimes things not everyone can see with the naked eye. There is also discussion of why we believe what we do and how does this belief in the whimsy fairies actually fill gaps? A lovely little tale, beautifully described and a delight to read. Try it! (Submitted by Jamie)

Sep 17, 2018

Even though I agree with the previous comment that this book was predictable and full of cliches, e.g., "warbling brook", I found that I enjoyed it anyway. Perhaps it was just that it was a welcome change from the dark events and behaviour that are going on in our world at the moment. Fairies at the end of the garden, whether real or not, are something lovely to think about!

Feb 04, 2018

I am really enjoying this story with back history at end in mine, I won on goodreads Have loved all her books

LoganLib_Adults Jan 30, 2018

A light easy to read novel.

Jan 29, 2018

Cottingley Secret...I read it all for a book club. I felt tortured by the cliches, the "warbling brooks", the predictability. I found it almost a torturous read. Thank God I've finished. There are, I think, so many ways she could have made the story work. But didn't. It also dragged on and on and on. It is a long time since I felt hostaged by a book. My opinion, of course. No more Gaynor for me.

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SPL_Robyn Oct 02, 2017

It is 1917 and the Great War wages on. Frances Griffiths’ father is fighting somewhere in France, and she and her mother are forced to move to Cottingley in Yorkshire to live in with Frances’ aunt, uncle and cousin Elsie. Elsie is much older than Frances but she has a playful spirit, and tells Frances enchanting tales of the “little people”, the fairies who are thought to dwell near the little brook by her home. As a joke on the unbelieving adults, Elsie takes photographs of Frances and the “fairies”, an innocent prank until the photographs are brought to the attention of a celebrated novelist – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle –who is convinced they are authentic and proof of the spiritual world. They keep their secret for decades, though it makes Frances quite uncomfortable, because she has found that she can actually see, or at least sense the little people, especially if she is still, and very, very patient.

One hundred years later in Ireland, Olivia Kavanaugh finds she has inherited her beloved grandfather’s bookstore, Something Old. As she struggles with his loss, her Nana’s fading memory, an unwanted and impending wedding and attempts to help the little store thrive, she discovers an old manuscript telling Frances story from her own perspective that contains links to her own life in 21st century Ireland. She also finds some new friends, and ties to her past that give her new courage in the present. She also finds evidence – she thinks – that the little people are not wholly gone from the Irish landscape…

An introspective novel only just touched by magic that gives the very real Cottingley Fairies Hoax a new and thoughtful back-story, this newest novel from Hazel Gaynor with parallel narratives is sure to please fans of Cynthia-Harrod Eagles and Sarah Addison Allen alike. ~RLG


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Nov 12, 2019

In her dreams the books came to life, flying up from their shelves like a flock of seagulls startled from the sand, their pages flapping wildly beneath cracked spines, carrying them up and out of the open door where they swooped across the dazzling lights of the city, intending to settle on deserving ightstands, gifts for sleepy book lovers when they woke in the morning.


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