Hazel Gaynor’s newest novel is set just prior to and after the Great War. When the prologue opens, its March 1916 in Lancashire, England and Teddy Cooper is saying goodbye to Dorothy (Dolly) Lane. He’s ready to go, boasting, “They won’t know what’s hit them when we arrive. Look at us. Tough as old boots!” But, her heart is breaking as she’s afraid she’ll never see him again. When the story begins, we fast forward to 1923 in London. It’s mentioned that she’d been walking with Teddy. So everything feels right! Right? Not so fast. We find out that Teddy had been in Maghull Military Hospital in Lancashire. The problem? He’s suffering shell shock. His nurse reads him Dorothy’s letters, but he doesn’t remember those times; he doesn’t remember Dorothy.
In 1923, Dorothy is running late to interview for a job as a chambermaid at The Savoy, London’s grandest hotel. She runs, literally, into Perry Clements. The initial meeting, however clumsy, was also a comfortable and rather playful moment. She has no idea that when she answers an ad seeking a ‘muse’ that it would be for Perry. He is a songwriter. His sister, the rather famous actress, Loretta May, is living the life that Dorothy would like to emulate.
There are three narrators in The Girl from the Savoy – Dolly, Loretta, and Teddy. Each offers their own perspective into their lives at the time as well as bits of their past. It was interesting that Loretta knew the struggles Dolly was going through by her own earlier struggles. The premise and the historical value of this novel were excellent. I’ve read two of Gaynor’s prior novels, and what she does faultlessly is the research necessary to bring the reader right into the era. However, I felt the pacing was a bit lagging and the character depth was weak. Rating: 3 out of 5.