Wednesday 14 September 2016

Review ~ The Girl from the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor

Harper 2016

A bit of Blurb..

Dolly Lane is a dreamer; a downtrodden maid who longs to dance on the London stage, but her life has been fractured by the Great War. Memories of the soldier she loved, of secret shame and profound loss, by turns pull her back and spur her on to make a better life.

When she finds employment as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, Dolly takes a step closer to the glittering lives of the Bright Young Things who thrive on champagne, jazz and rebellion. Right now, she must exist on the fringes of power, wealth and glamour—she must remain invisible and unimportant.

But her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to a struggling songwriter’s advertisement for a ‘muse’ and finds herself thrust into London’s exhilarating theatre scene and into the lives of celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry. Loretta and Perry may have the life Dolly aspires to, but they too are searching for something.

Now, at the precipice of the life she has and the one she longs for, the girl from The Savoy must make difficult choices: between two men; between two classes, between everything she knows and everything she dreams of. A brighter future is tantalizingly close—but can a girl like Dolly ever truly leave her past behind?

My thoughts about the book..

The prologue starts in 1916 and in a small Lancashire village Dolly Lane sees her sweetheart, Teddy go off to fight in the Great War. We then fast forward to 1923 as Dolly takes up a position as a chambermaid at The Savoy Hotel in London.There she comes into contact with the rich and famous, meeting people who live such lives that Dolly can only barely imagine. However, the fickle finger of fate, and a chance meeting with a struggling musician, soon propels Dolly into  a very different sort of life.

What I loved about this book was the way that the author very cleverly brings the past to life. There is a glittering reality to the story which is quite compelling. From the opulence of the guest suites at The Savoy Hotel, to the dusty backstage areas of London's theatre scene, the glorious and not so glorious image of the roaring twenties starts to come alive in the imagination.

The author has certainly done her research and fills the novel with wonderful descriptions of what it was like to be young and living in London at that time. I especially enjoyed the image of Dolly and her friend Clover as they try on rouge and pancake powder  in Woolworth's and spray the heady scent of the latest Yardley perfume on themselves. But amongst the gaiety is also sadness, the poignancy and heartbreak of Teddy's story which runs alongside that of Dolly, and also of the uneasiness of Dolly's association with the celebrated actress Loretta May, a woman who is facing her own particular demon.

Overall, this is a really good evocation of 1920's England, and as it follows the fortunes of this disparate group of people you can't help but become involved in the story of their intertwining lives and by the end of the novel you really hope that everything is going to work out for well for them all.

Fans of this talented author will be delighted with The Girl From the Savoy which was published in the UK by Harper Collins on the 8th September.

Best Read With.. a cup of Earl Grey tea and a slice of Battenburg

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 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.

Website click here
Twitter @HazelGaynor
Facebook click here

My interview with the author about The Girl from the Savoy can be found by clicking here 

My thanks to the author and to Harper Collins for my review copy of this book.


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