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Paperback – 8 Sep 2016
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‘Enormously enjoyable rags to riches tale… full of 1920’s glamour, jazz and delicious period detail’ Red Magazine
‘Sumptuous, gorgeous, authentic and surprising, Hazel Gaynor has written another hit.’ Sunday Independent
‘Gorgeously written’ Irish Independent
‘Peopled with unforgettable characters…Once begun, I dare you to put it down.’ Kathleen Tessaro, author of The Perfume Collector
'A stunningly evocative story so vividly told …I loved every gorgeously written page of it.' Claudia Carroll
‘Unputdownable. The characters jumped from the pages, filling my head with extraordinary moments.’ Carmel Harrington
Praise for Hazel Gaynor:
‘A beautifully imagined novel rich in historic detail and with authentic, engaging characters – I loved this book.’ Kate Kerrigan, author of The Dress
About the Author
Hazel Gaynor's debut novel THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller and winner of the 2015 RNA Historical Romantic Novel of the Year award. Her second novel A MEMORY OF VIOLETS was also a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.
Hazel writes a popular guest blog 'Carry on Writing' for national Irish writing website writing.ie and also contributes feature articles for the site, interviewing authors such as Philippa Gregory, Sebastian Faulks, Cheryl Strayed and Rachel Joyce among others.
Hazel was the recipient of the 2012 Cecil Day Lewis award for Emerging Writers and was selected by Library Journal as one of ten big breakout authors for 2015. Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.
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Dolly, the main protagonist is not particularly likeable and as a character doesn't seem to have the 'star' quality or charisma that she is meant to possess. The other supporting characters are equally bland and none have a real chemistry together. I was looking for a light, enjoyable read, but overall I found the writing difficult to get through as it was terribly insincere and just plain dull!
Except that once started, I couldn't put it down. As it happened, the book came to me while I was on holidays, during which I had already gone through a new Vatican-themed whodunnit bought at the airport and an old Inspector Wexford mystery left in a cupboard of our holiday apartment. It wasn't that I was short of something to do, as I bring my own writing work with me on holidays anyhow, and between this and exploring new places, time is well filled. But as soon as Dolly Lane arrived, she took over. As is mentioned in the book by many of the characters, there's 'something' about Dolly.
There are three primary people in this latest story from Hazel Gaynor. Dolly, her childhood friend and husband to be but gone to war Teddy, and darling of the London and New York stages Loretta. The author adopts the technique of having the voice of each separately tell their stories in the first person, a chapter at a time. Other characters and situations that both link and divide them appear in the narratives of each, where relevant. At first, these seem like lives fairly straightforward for their times. Dolly, moving from domestic service to serving the needs of the high-flying clientele of The Savoy. Teddy, desperately trying to recover from what was then known as ‘shell shock’. Loretta, at the peak of her career and determined to help someone else emulate her achievements.
Quickly enough, we think we know each of them. And what is going to happen to them and between them. Except that Hazel Gaynor has developed a deft touch of leaving clues through her stories which can mislead as much as lead. So the lives not just of her three main characters here, but many of the peripheral ones too, can take turns just as unexpected as do many of our real lives. This is partly why I found it difficult to put down ‘The Girl from The Savoy’.
The period setting is, like her previous books, around a hundred years ago. That’s an era which fascinates the author, and it’s clear that she revels in researching the detail for the background to whatever her current writing project is. We as readers get the benefit of that in how she figuratively paints her canvas on which to allow her characters to develop. It’s the detail, not overdone but there, which brings us into that period as we read. Which involves us with the fictional people to the level that they seem real. What’s also clear is that a century later, the things that are important to people haven’t changed. The pursuit of romance, love, ambition. The attraction of charisma, of drama, of music. The wish, so often remaining as just that, to be more than what we are.
And if there was just one line to describe what goes on in ‘The Girl from The Savoy’, it’s possibly that last. Dolly and her fellow travellers in this very real fictional life, becoming more than what they are.
No, it was never going to be my kind of book. Except that it turns out that it is.
Dolly, the main character, is charming, talented, and ambitious - trying to put behind her a dark past. I loved every step of her journey from maid to muse, and the multi layered characters she befriends on her way.
This book is like a cosy blanket, you just want to wrap yourself up in it and enjoy every second. I can highly recommend it. Also I loved the rich historical detail, it really transports you back it time, and gives the story an extra dimension.
I am already anticipating Hazel Gaynors next book.
Well researched and illuminates the era.
At times the writing drifts but in an enjoyable way.
I can recommend for a day when you may wish to escape the current media traumas, this is meant in the best possible way.
Get a copy and enjoy.
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