Book Review: The Girl from the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor

This week I'm celebrating Historical Fiction Week on the blog, so I thought it would be the perfect time to read and review this novel set London after the Great War. Have a look at my thoughts here:

Title: The Girl from the Savoy
Author: Hazel Gaynor
Published: June 7th 2016 by Harper 

Blurb: Presenting a dazzling new historical novel… The Girl From The Savoy is as sparkling as champagne and as thrilling as the era itself.

Sometimes life gives you cotton stockings. Sometimes it gives you a Chanel gown…

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 glamor—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?

The paperback edition will be available in the UK from September 8th

First of all I would like to thank the publishers for sending me a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Review: The Girl from the Savoy is a fascinating story with captivating characters and a stunning setting and it goes directly to my top read of the year. I think there was not a thing I didn't love about this book. Seriously, historical fiction at its best.

The story revolves around Dolly, a maid who has just started working at The Savoy. But she has big dreams and aspirations: she wants to be the next big thing and star in all the plays and musicals, just like her idols Loretta May and Tallulah Bankhead. So imagine her excitement when she meets Perry by chance and Perry turns out to be Loretta's brother. Soon the three of them become close friends and it looks like Dolly's dreams are not as far-fetched as everyone thought. 

I found Dolly to be a fascinating character. From the beginning, you could sense that there was so much more to her than you might first thing. She had secrets and ghosts from her past that still haunted her and I loved discovering them and knowing more about her life before the Savoy. At the same time though, she was like a ray of sunshine, making everyone happier and brightening their day with just a smile. I really wanted all her dreams to come true and I rooted for her through the whole story. She kept surprising me and I'm sure she will be one of those characters who will stay with me for a long time.

And then there were Perry and Loretta. They both had their own stories to tell and their own ghosts and I ended up really caring for them. I even shade a tear or two while reading their stories. Perry was a joy to read, and as the story progressed and he started feeling happier, it was difficult not to fall a bit in love with him. And Loretta had such a presence. I could totally picture her owning the stage and making the public go mad. I was really intrigued by her as she seemed to have it all but felt like she had nothing. 

Something that Hazel Gaynor managed to capture perfectly in this story was the glamorous world surrounding the Savoy and its guests and the contrast with the simple and poor world of its workers and of all the girls who dreamed of being a guest one day. I've always been fascinated by that decade, a decade of contrasts, of Charleston and beautiful dresses but also of hard times, especially for women, who had been working and keeping the country afloat during the war and were now expected to go back to their old roles. While reading this book, I felt like I was there myself, following Loretta and Dolly's adventures around London. 

The Girl from the Savoy is a book you don't want to miss. It's a very well researched story with many layers that delivers a lot more than you might expect. A gem of a book. 

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