Book Review: Amy Snow

Amy Snow
Published By: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Page Count: 551
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Historical Fiction

Eight year-old heiress Aurelia Vennaway discovers a baby abandoned in a snow drift on her family’s estate. With social pressure on her side, Aurelia convinces her snobbish parents to allow the foundling to be raised by the servants in their home. She names the baby Amy Snow, and despite the differences in their ages and social statuses they grow up closer than many siblings. After Aurelia’s death at age twenty-five, Amy receives a legacy that leads her on a journey to discover the secrets Aurelia has been hiding. 

Tracy Rees’s writing is simply beautiful. She effortlessly captures the formality of language during the Victorian Era, while maintaining a light and engaging tone, and her word choices tickled my not-so-inner nerd. I love that Rees trusts her readers’ vocabularies, even though I did have to look up ‘lepidoptery.’ (The study of moths, if you’re curious.) 

Reading the book was like watching Amy go through all the life stages of those moths that carry so much meaning for one of the characters in the book. Larval when she leaves the Vennaway estate, Amy grows into herself as the story progresses. Although I found myself occasionally frustrated by some of Amy’s choices in the novel, they were believable for such a young character, and one whose development is not yet complete. Amy is only seventeen at the time of the main part of the story, and who of us can say they were never unnecessarily dramatic or impulsive at that age? That definitely would not be me. ;) 

The one thing that did kind of bother me about the novel is that so many of the central female characters seemed more liberated than typical of the time period. Rees does tell us that Aurelia has progressive ideas that distress her parents (which is fine), but I have difficulty believing that her parents would have allowed their only child to keep company with Mrs. Bolton who pretty clearly not only supported her “radical” behavior, but was probably outright teaching it to her. Additionally, Amy doesn’t seem to have any problem finding like-minded gentlemen which I have to think would have been even less common. 

If I had to sum up this book in one sentence, I would say: Amy Snow is a P.S. I Love You story between two BFFs in Victorian England. Readers who swooned over that movie, or who enjoy period novels, will love Amy Snow. I count myself among them and look forward to the next book by Tracy Rees.

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.