Winner of the UK’s Richard & Judy Search for a Bestseller Competition, this page-turning debut novel follows an orphan whose late, beloved best friend bequeaths her a treasure hunt that leads her all over Victorian England and finally to the one secret her friend never shared.
It is 1831 when eight-year-old Aurelia Vennaway finds a naked baby girl abandoned in the snow on the grounds of her aristocratic family’s magnificent mansion. Her parents are horrified that she has brought a bastard foundling into the house, but Aurelia convinces them to keep the baby, whom she names Amy Snow. Amy is brought up as a second-class citizen, despised by Vennaways, but she and Aurelia are as close as sisters. When Aurelia dies at the age of twenty-three, she leaves Amy ten pounds, and the Vennaways immediately banish Amy from their home.
But Aurelia left her much more. Amy soon receives a packet that contains a rich inheritance and a letter from Aurelia revealing she had kept secrets from Amy, secrets that she wants Amy to know. From the grave she sends Amy on a treasure hunt from one end of England to the other: a treasure hunt that only Amy can follow. Ultimately, a life-changing discovery awaits...if only Amy can unlock the secret. In the end, Amy escapes the Vennaways, finds true love, and learns her dearest friend’s secret, a secret that she will protect for the rest of her life.
An abandoned baby, a treasure hunt, a secret. As Amy sets forth on her quest, readers will be swept away by this engrossing gem of a novel—the wonderful debut by newcomer Tracy Rees.
Set in Victorian England, this engrossing first novel chronicles the secretive treasure hunt that the titular heroine undertakes following her friend's death. After finding an infant Amy abandoned in the snow, kindly child Aurelia Vennaway brings the baby into her family's sprawling mansion, much to the chagrin of Aurelia's spiteful and haughty rich parents. Amy is raised in the kitchen and treated like a servant when not kept out of sight, though the older Aurelia loves her like a sister. Aurelia's declining health derails her parents' plans to marry her off. She begs them to let her go on a short chaperoned trip before her heart fails her. What began as a three-month trip stretches to over a year, with Aurelia's letters from different cities growing more uncharacteristically flighty and infrequent. Aurelia's health rapidly worsens upon her return. After her death, she leaves Amy a letter that includes money and instructions to begin a complicated quest in London that will guide Amy to several locations in order to uncover a secret that Aurelia has been hiding. Rees has a fresh story with a great hook. There is a less successful love triangle involving Amy and two men, but the main plot is rife with mysterious clues, intriguing people, and varied settings.
Such a great read!
Historial, fiction novel!
Amy Snow by Tracy Rees is about the journey of Amy Snow. In 1831, eight-year-old Aurelia Vennaway finds a baby in the snow outside her family home. Aurelia immediately wrapped up the naked and cold infant in her cloak and rushed into the house. Her mother was entertaining and was outraged that Aurelia would bring the child into the home. But considering her guests, Lady Celestina had to keep quiet. Thanks to the esteemed guests, the child was taken into the home (with stipulations) and placed in the kitchen (to sleep, live, and work). Aurelia named her Amy Snow (Amy after her favorite doll). Amy worked her way up in the household from kitchen maid (and sleeping in the pantry) to lady’s maid and then Aurelia’s companion. When Aurelia collapses outside one day, it was discovered that she had a heart condition. Aurelia seized a last chance to travel before she died and went away for a year. Aurelia sent Amy some letters, but she never included many details. Upon her return Aurelia’s condition deteriorated and Amy took care of her until she passed away at twenty-three. In Aurelia’s will she left Amy 10 pounds (this is British currency). Aurelia knew she had to be careful because of her parents (they would take it away from Amy). The next morning the local schoolteacher, Mr. Clay gives Amy a package and a letter. Aurelia is sending Amy on a treasure hunt one last time (they enjoyed them when they were younger). Aurelia knew her parents would not let Amy stay at Hatville Court once she passed away. They went through Amy’s belongings and threw her out that day. Amy follows the directions in the first letter and her adventure begins. What will Amy find at the end of the treasure hunt? What secret was Aurelia hiding from her parents? You will have to read Amy Snow to find out!
Amy Snow is a nicely written book, but it is extremely slow paced (and sentimental). We get to find out what life was like for Amy and Aurelia growing up in the Vennaway household (very different lives), what happened during Aurelia’s year of traveling, and Amy experiencing life outside the Vennaway household. I thought the story was predictable (it is a story we have read or heard many times). The author, though, does a good job of capturing the time period (Ms. Rees is a very descriptive writer). Tracy Rees gives the reader beautiful descriptions of the towns, homes and their furnishing, and the clothing worn by the people. I give Amy Snow 2 out of 5 stars (not for me). The story just dragged on too long and there was nothing unexpected or interesting to liven up the storyline. I did like the epilogue (when I finally go to it). The book is supposed to be a like mystery. Amy goes on the treasure hunt to find out what happened to Aurelia during that year. However, it is really no mystery. I think everyone will be able to guess the secret. I found Amy to be extremely naïve and gullible (as well as annoying). This novel was just not for me. I believe it would appeal to a younger audience (I probably would have enjoyed it more when I was a teenager).
I received a complimentary copy of Amy Snow from NetGalley (and the publisher) in exchange for an honest evaluation. The comments and opinions are strictly my own.