The Cottingley Secret
I have had so much fun taking part in the Booksparks Summer Reading Challenge, and receiving glorious packages of books all summer for my perusal. I am still in shock that people will send me books to read...and I hope that I have done a decent job at getting reviews and photos out there for the world to see. Our move this summer got me a bit behind, but I am still working my way through my never-ending To Read Pile, and I hope to eventually get through all of the books I was sent.
But, in spite of what the thermometer read this morning, it is no longer Summer. It is now Autumn...the time of pumpkin spice everything, leaves falling from the trees, cups of tea drank while curled up on the couch with a light blankie, no longer sweating your ass off if you move an inch...Autumn!! It's time for the Booksparks Fall Reading Challenge, otherwise known as Booksparks University...and I am lucky enough to be a part of the program! And a few days late, I have THE epitome of a fall book for you...The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor.
Olivia Kavanagh learns upon her grandfather's death that he's left his beloved used bookshop to her, along with a very special manuscript that he writes is somehow linked to their family. The bookstore, a cottage, and a grandmother with Alzheimers are all left in Olivia's hands...but they are all in Ireland and she's meant to be getting married in London soon. But everything about the area feels like home, so she takes some time to straighten things out and think about what she wants for her future. While ruminating, she picks up the manuscript that her grandfather left her and finds that it's the memoir of Frances Griffiths, one of the two Yorkshire girls who claimed to have photographed fairies in 1917. As she reads about a country getting caught up in a story of fairies, she embarks on a journey to figure out what she wants in life.
This book was beautiful. I honestly don't know how to express how much I enjoyed reading it! Impeccably researched, with information in the back on why the author chose to write a book around the Cottingley Fairies, along with the original photos and a letter from Frances Griffiths' daughter, I feel this is one of the best fictional books I've read that is wrapped around a true story. The book within a book is woven together so seamlessly, and it gave me far more information about that old fairy story than I knew before.
But along with telling a story steeped in history, it also tells a contemporary tale of a woman finding herself in what amounts to a magical bookstore. And really, what book nerd isn't going to love reading a novel set in a bookstore?!? Now, please don't read "magical bookstore" and get any strange ideas. I'm not talking about books flying around or any HP mumbo-jumbo. Ms. Gaynor sprinkles just enough whimsy in her tale to warm your heart without any saccharine-sweet after taste. It is just the right amount of love, which honestly made me want to run out and buy a small space to open my own used book store!!
So really, this book is the perfect Autumn reading selection. If you are a fan of historical fiction, books set in the UK (*cough..Kat...cough*), books with a sprinkling of fairy dust, books about bookstores, women-centric tales of finding yourself, etc...this book is for you. It is the perfect book to read on a brisk Sunday, snuggled up in your favorite chair with a cable-knit blanket around your legs and a hot cup of tea in your sassy coffee-mug.
Booksparks has started their Fall Reading Challenge off with a bang!! I am so jazzed about the rest of the books in the program, and I can't thank them enough for letting me take part.
Can you think of a book that fits the impending Pumpkin Spice Latte season?? If so, let me know in the comments!