Set in the aftermath of World War I, Hazel Gaynor’s The Girl From The Savoy is a story about life after loss, hope and finding adventure in everything.
It follows Dorothy ‘Dolly’ Lane as she starts a job as a maid at The Savoy hotel in London. She has dreams of becoming an actress and sees her time at the hotel as a way of getting there. She is sure she will meet her destiny within those walls, despite her past creeping back to her.
Loretta May, an established and much loved star at the peak of her career has been given some terrible news about her future. She can’t bring herself to tell her friends and family. She worries about her brother, Perry, and his fragile state since coming back from war.
These two women from complete opposite sides of society become inextricably linked after a chance meeting between Dolly and Perry. As friendship develops between the three of them, they must figure out if they can ever truly leave their past behind and get on with their future.
The Girl From The Savoy perfectly captures the atmosphere of the 20’s era. The dazzling dresses and excitement of the stage are given life in Gaynor’s capable hands. Her descriptions of both the glamour of the limelight and the post-war despair make you feel as if you’re living through it all yourself.
Her characters are believable and relatable. Dolly’s hopefulness is something everyone has experienced at some point and makes you root for her. The obstacles she comes across have you willing her on all the more. You feel the heartache in the pain she suffers because of choices she made in the past.
This book focuses a lot on women. On how they dealt with the loss of the independence they gained during wartime. Dolly is forced to go back to service work after her time in an ammunition factory and rues losing the freedom she felt. Loretta also felt a personal freedom during the war when she volunteered as a nurse, much to the dismay of her parents who believed it was beneath her as the daughter of an earl.
The two women are strong female characters throughout. Dolly never gives up on her ambition no matter how many times people tell her she’s just a dreamer. Loretta stays tough in the face of her problems, never letting it get in her way and always continuing to do what she loves. They’re confident compared to many of the men and don’t always make the choices you would expect them to make.
If I had to nitpick at something, and it is just a nitpick, I would say that parts of the ending were a little bit too neat for my taste. Some things were a bit too coincidental and unrealistic. But other than that this is a fantastic read and well worth the 500 pages it’s written on.