I’ve been wanting to write about this one for a while. I started following Hazel Gaynor on twitter (@HazelGaynor) a while ago, based on the title of her book alone. As an avowed Anglophile who would love to live in England/London, I fall in love with most books set in the English countryside or in the bustling city of London. I’ve even more attracted to London in the late 19th century/early 20th century. For some reason, that time period in England has always captured my imagination.
So, when I heard that this book was set after the “Great War” (WWI for those that aren’t as well versed in the language), in the glitziest hotel in London at the time, I knew it was right up my alley. I also had another little connection to the Savoy. When the family took a trip to London to see the start of the Tour de France (either in 08 or 10….I can’t really remember), our hotel was actually near/across from the Savoy. I was trying to find my pictures, but they are locked somewhere in the cloud or in a hard drive that I can’t find. So, sorry, just take my word for it.
Anyway. The story follows the story of a young woman who leaves the countryside of England to pursue a dream of breaking into the theater. We learn she had a beau who went off to the Great War and in the beginning we aren’t really sure what happened to him over there. Throughout the book, we get glimpses of their life in the past through letters and a twist at the end brought tears to my eyes. In fact, there are two major story lines that brought tears to my eyes. But no spoilers.
So, Dolly transitions from work in a household to the glamorous hotel Savoy. Still very Downton Abbey like with hierarchies and rules of engagement with guests (the upper classes). She meets a musician by accident, and through a classified ad becomes his “muse” and enters the orbit of his glamorous actress sister who decides to take Dolly under her wing. Very “My Fair Lady” without all the vocal lessons.
I couldn’t put the book down, and I was rooting for Dolly the whole time. Several times I got nervous that she wouldn’t be able to talk her way out of something, but she had the resiliency and pluck (such a good word from back in the day to use) to overcome. As I said, I don’t want to spoil anything, but the ending was happy, but also a bit surprising. I definitely thought it was going to go one way, and it zigged in another way. Which personally I find exciting!
And, just as an update…there are no updates! Still waiting on responses from queries!