The Cottingley Secret
by Hazel Gaynor is literally a “fairy” tale.
Do you remember the part in Peter Pan where Tinkerbell is
dying and Peter says: “She’s going to die unless
we do something. Clap your hands! Clap your hands and say
‘I believe in fairies.’ And then everyone –
adults and children alike – does just that? Clapping
and reciting that belief that fairies do exist.
latest novel, Hazel Gaynor brings back all those fond memories
and more. She takes readers back to a world of enchantment
with this intriguing mystery questioning if fairies really
do exist. Even the Yorkshire setting appears magical, the
shallow Beck with the little waterfall, the willow bough seat,
and the sunlight illuminating the leaves on the trees.
also believes in fairies, “100 %. They are like Santa
Claus where you do not want to question that sense of another
being. During World War I so many lives were lost. People
latched on to this magical story and were primed to believe
there was an after life. They chose to escape the horrors
of WWI and hoped there was another realm, where life went
on. If we believe in something then we can make it happen.
I think they were symbolic for a sense of hope, faith, and
in Yorkshire became famous after two girls, in 1917, claimed
they could see fairies. One, Frances Griffiths, believes she
actually saw them, and the other, her cousin, Elsie Wright,
thought it would make a great practical joke to play along
with the observations of Frances. It’s easy to understand
why Frances, a lonely young girl following her father’s
going to war and her move from South Africa to England with
her mother, would want to imagine magical figures. After telling
her family and wanting very much to be believed she and her
cousin Elsie take photographs of fairy cutouts, drawn by Elsie.
It got out of hand when the famous British writer Arthur Conan
Doyle, known for the Sherlock Holmes character, and photography
experts heard about it, and in the course of investigating
said that the photos were 100% authentic.
forward 100 years to 2017 when Olivia Kavanagh finds out that
her great grandmother was Frances’ teacher and played
a role in the fairy hoax. But, she finds more information
after her grandfather dies while combing through the old bookshop
left to her. After discovering a photograph and a manuscript
about the Cottingley fairies, Olivia feels a connection to
the past. She becomes almost obsessed to find the answers
to the mysterious photo and manuscript, hoping to sort out
what is real and what is imagined.
in love and life she tries to cope with her mother’s
death during her formative years, the recent death of her
beloved grandfather that leaves her more alone than ever,
a grandmother who has Alzheimer’s, and the realization
that her fiancé is not someone she wants to spend the
rest of her life with.
scene about the loss of a loved one is very powerful, where
her words express the feelings of anyone who also had someone
they care for die. “The awful reality of his absence
hit her… sending broken memories of happier times skittering
across the creaky floorboards to hide in dark grief-stricken
corners. He wasn’t there, and yet he was everywhere.”
noted, “I lost my mother when I was in my twenties.
It could be written from my raw experience. As I grow older
I feel that sense of loss because I could not talk to my mom
about becoming a woman, a wife, and a mother. I just write
on my life experiences as I enter into this fictional world.
I expressed some of my feelings through Olivia because I could
not express it through myself. I hope that the way I describe
it makes sense to readers as well.”
said, that a mental photo is the representation in a person's
mind of the physical world. Yet, family members of those suffering
from Alzheimer’s understand that the mental photo becomes
dim over time. This powerful book quote can be a simile for
Olivia’s grandmother, “There is more to every
photograph than what we see-more to the story than the one
the camera captures on the plate. You have to look behind
the picture to discover the truth.”
Alzheimer’s, she commented, “my husband’s
nana was suffering early stages of dementia before she passed.
I wrote Martha’s story as her story. There is a sense
of a fading away with the memories. For me, that is why a
photograph is very important because it is a very permanent
record of family. I also spoke with friends and how they felt
the frustration of seeing their loved one slipping away.”
is a book for adults who never want to grow old or those who
have a speckle of childhood left in them, and for parents
to read to their children as a bedtime story. It is a magical
tale that is moving and relatable.
of other titles by this author
Girl From The Savoy