Hazel Gaynor returns to the blog today – I’ve read two of her earlier works, a short from a World War I anthology and a story of flower sellers in London. Historic fiction with perspectives, settings and challenges that highlight the class separations, limitations of dreams and the vagaries of history. Please read on for my review of
The Girl from the Savoy
The Savoy is THE place to be in London: in the years surrounding World War I it is the center of the sparkling good life experienced by the upper-crust. And, when you add in the social changes as Britain (and the world) resets and readjusts in the aftermath of the war, the dissolution of the great houses, women’s rights, and the underlying social unrest as the lower classes are starting to see opportunities.
Told in the perspective of three people, Teddy a young man off to war, Dolly – a young girl with dreams of the stage, desperate to find her own upward mobility. Lastly is Loretta, a well-known actress, daughter of an Earl, and facing the end of her career. Amidst all of the social change, Dolly and Loretta befriend one another after an advertisement for a muse draws them together.
What emerges is the story of the two women, Loretta introducing and often manipulating situations for Dolly, showing her the finer things in life while still presiding over the gate, and Dolly’s early fascination with the life she aspires to, while still finding moments in which her own simpler and more constrictive background will influence her choices.
The Savoy is simply the backdrop for the aspirations and often ostentatious displays of wealth and the power that comes from the having or not. What shines is the connection and similarities between Dolly and Loretta, if it did come about as a bit of convenient contrivance. That niggle falls away in the development of their characters, with Dolly far outshining in growth and descriptive moments, as she has the most to gain from their acquaintance. The similarities between these two, on the cusp of great change in society as they navigate choices and directions for their lives is wonderfully drawn and engaging. Now, Teddy’s role is small and a bit distracting, best served as a touchpoint for Dolly as she was, while offering up intriguing moments to add conflict for her choices, and a bit of sentimentality.
A wonderful read that is ultimately about dreams, hopes and opportunities in times of great changes.
Title: The Girl from The Savoy
Author: Hazel Gaynor
Genre: British, Historical Fiction, World War I
Published by: William Morrow Paperbacks
Published on: 7 June, 2016
Audio Length: 14 Hours: 20 minutes
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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?
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.