Title: The Girl from the Savoy
Author: Hazel Gaynor
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Goodreads Synopsis: 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?
First of all, I have to admit that the real reason I chose this book was almost exclusively based on the cover. Can you blame me though? The subject matter piqued my interest as well, but the former was what did me in. #Sorrynotsorry
Hazel Gaynor is not a new author for me, as I have also read (and loved) her novel- The Girl Who Came Home. Gaynor is an author I would pick up for an inspirational, feel-good read. She has a knack for portraying strong women in circumstances in which they defy all the odds, whether those odds are for survival or making a name for themselves. In this case, The Girl from the Savoy features a young dreamer who denies fate and achieves everything she sets out to accomplish. With heavy-handed (cliche) themes of ‘follow your dreams,’ ‘never give up,’ and ‘life after loss,’ this is a story you’ve heard a thousand times before. But Gaynor has put her own spin on it, weaving a tale of a young woman who learns to live after losing what she holds dear, and to follow her dreams at every opportunity.
Set in 1920’s London just after World War I, The Girl from the Savoy follows Dolly Lane, a maid at the famed Savoy Hotel. Despite coming from scratch beginnings, Dolly dreams of being a star.
The story alternates between several points of view, switching from Dolly, to Teddy Cooper, to famous actress Loretta May. I found Dolly and Loretta to be intriguing characters, and I appreciated the parallels between their experiences. While their connection seemed a bit convenient, I didn’t find it annoying or unbelievable. The third narrator, Teddy, left much to be desired. His character had great potential, but didn’t carry much weight between the other voices. I appreciated his role in the novel, but he seemed more like a means to an end.
My favorite part of this book was that there was no Prince Charming to sweep Dolly off of her feet and ensure her success. Dolly stands alone and doesn’t need a man to validate her. She puts her dreams and what she wants for herself ahead of anything else, which I find commendable and unusual for the time period.
My complaints are as follows:
- The employers at the Savoy hotel treat their employees remarkably well for the time period.
- Convenience for the sake of convenience.
- Some story lines are not wrapped up as neatly or as realistically as I would have liked them to be, and left much to be desired.
- It was a bit slow going in the beginning while Gaynor introduced her characters and their backstories.
I think Gaynor portrayed the passing of time very well in her novel, but she took too much of it in laying her groundwork for the story. The novel took too much time finding its feet, and its delivery of the message came a beat too late. I think a lot of the story could have been cut out, and I can see this easily being condensed into a “made for TV” movie.