Dolly Lane is a dreamer; a downtrodden maid who longs to dance on the London stage, but the outbreak of war takes everything from her: Teddy, the man she loves – and her hopes of a better life.When she secures employment as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, Dolly’s proximity to the dazzling guests makes her yearn for a life beyond the grey drudgery she was born into. Her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to an unusual newspaper advert and finds herself thrust into the heady atmosphere of London’s glittering theatre scene and into the sphere of the celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry.All three are searching for something, yet the aftermath of war has cast a dark shadow over them all. A brighter future is tantalisingly close – but can a girl like Dolly ever truly leave her past behind?
Welcome to the Blog Tour for The Girl from the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor, published by Harper Collins in paperback on 8 September 2016.
When I find out that a book is set in 1920s London, I'm the first in the queue to read it. The 20s is one of my favourite eras to read about, and London thrills me,always.
The short prologue is set in Lancashire in 1916 and Dolly is at the station, waving her sweetheart Teddy off to war. Teddy is convinced that he will be home safely in no time, and that he and Dolly will marry and live happily ever after. Dolly is not so sure, she has a feeling that things will not turn out like that.
Fast forward seven years and the reader finds Dolly in London, alone. She's been working as a housemaid but has secured herself a job at the Savoy;one of London's very best hotels. She's late, it's raining and she collides with a young gentleman. Perry Clements. There's a definite spark between them despite their different circumstances. They part company, not realising that this chance encounter is only the beginning of their story.
The reader accompanies Dolly as she begins her job at the Savoy. Hazel Gaynor has an incredible eye for detail and her description of the luxury and grandeur of this iconic place are really excellent. Dolly is mesmerised by the beauty and style, not just of the building, but of the guests and visitors that she encounters.
Dolly is a 'gallery girl'. She dreams of fame and celebrity, and wants nothing more than to be on the stage. She spends her saved pennies for the cheap seats at the theatre, along with lots of other working class girls who were recovering from the horrors of war and wanted glitz and glamour.
The Girl from the Savoy is Dolly's story of survival. It is also Loretta's story. Loretta is already a star, but fading, she's also Perry Clements' sister and these three characters come together and create this wonderfully detailed story of life in the theatre. Also, interwoven throughout, is the voice of Teddy, Dolly's sweetheart. His story is heartbreaking and raw, exposing the true horror of the trenches and the after-effects for some of the men and boys who fought so bravely for their country.
At 500 pages, The Girl From The Savoy is not a short read, but I seemed to race through it. The story flows so well and the characters are so interesting that the pages just fly by so quickly.
It's a detailed and very absorbing story, I enjoyed it very much.
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and invited me to take part in this blog tour.
Hazel Gaynor's 2014 debut THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME was a NYT 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 selected by WHSmith Travel as a 'Fresh Talent' title and was also a NYT and USA Today bestseller.
Hazel is one of nine contributing authors to WWI anthology FALL OF POPPIES - Stories of Love and the Great War. Her third novel, THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY is available now.
Hazel writes a popular guest blog 'Carry on Writing' for national Irish writing website writing.ie and also contributes special guest features for the site, interviewing authors such as Philippa Gregory, Kate Mosse, 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.
To keep up-to-date with Hazel's latest news, visit her website www.hazelgaynor.com or her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hazelgaynorbooks
Follow her on Twitter @HazelGaynor