The Cottingley Secret

The Cottingley Secret

Book - 2017
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Baker & Taylor
Reimagines the early twentieth-century story of cousins Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright, who became a national sensation when they claimed they photographed fairies in their garden, winning the support of novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


“The Cottingley Secret tells the tale of two girls who somehow convince the world that magic exists. An artful weaving of old legends with new realities, this tale invites the reader to wonder: could it be true?” — Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker

One of BookBub's Most-Anticipated Books of Summer 2017! 

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home turns the clock back one hundred years to a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Now, in her newest novel, international bestseller Hazel Gaynor reimagines their story.

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?


& Taylor

The best-selling author of The Girl Who Came Home reimagines the early 20th-century story of cousins Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright, who became a national sensation when they claimed they photographed fairies in their garden, winning the support of novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 25,000 first printing. Trade paper available.

Publisher: New York : William Morrow, c2017
ISBN: 9780062690487
Branch Call Number: FIC GAY
Characteristics: 383, 16 p. :,ill. ;,24 cm.


From the critics

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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.

MGBustillo Jan 06, 2018

Revisit the fairy controversy that captured the world's attention when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle got involved in this historical fiction.

samdog123 Jan 03, 2018

I really like Hazel Gaynor's books and this one is no exception. A mystical, lovely story about the Cottingley fairy sightings that occurred in the early 20th Century in rural England. Follows the narrative of the two girls who took pictures of fairies, which later turned out to be a hoax--or was it? The past and the present overlap and the threads of the old and new stories bind together very well.

Dec 22, 2017

I really liked this pleasant story.

ehbooklover Nov 05, 2017

Magical. Enchanting. Compelling. Delightful. Atmospheric. Honestly, there aren't enough words to describe how much I absolutely loved this book. I could not put it down. One of my favourite reads of 2017, bar none. Note: the story of the Cottingley fairies is based on a true story.

SPL_Robyn Oct 02, 2017

reviewed in the Stratford Gazette, October, 2017


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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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