I stopped by the library one day last week and checked out 4 books, 3 from the New Books shelf. The first one I started reading was Amy Snow by Welsh author, Tracy Rees. Ms Rees won the "Richard and Judy Search For A Bestseller" competition in the UK with this debut novel.
Historical Romance fiction has always appealed to me and this one definitely did not disappoint. The book is well over 500 pages and I read it in two days, picking it up whenever I had a few free moments, evenings and a Saturday afternoon. I'm a fast reader but more so when a book really intrigues me as this one did.
A newborn baby, left in the snow, is discovered by eight-year-old Aurelia, the only child of wealthy parents. Aurelia convinces her parents to keep the baby and raise her at Hatville, their estate. They reluctantly agree but banish the baby, named Amy Snow by little Aurelia, to the kitchens. Amy grows up as servant, reviled by Aurelia's parents, but loved by Aurelia herself. Amy moves from servant to companion to nursemaid when her beloved friend is dying from a heart problem. Amy has been educated thanks to her mistress and friend's insistence.
She is heartbroken when Aurelia leaves for a short visit which turns into a year. Upon her return home, Aurelia declines over a three year period. After her death, a devastated Amy is turned out by Aurelia's parents. She had been left 10 pounds and a sketchbook of drawings done by her friend. Amy also is given a letter written earlier by Aurelia. It is coded and sends Amy on a treasure hunt in 4 places in England. Aurelia has left another letter in each community with the help of friends. Amy is sent from one unfamiliar town to another as she tries to unravel the mysterious treasure hunt.
She encounters many interesting characters along the way, two men who claim to love her, and more mysteries than answers as she seeks the reason Aurelia has sent her on this quest. Is there really a treasure at the end? Will she ever find out who her parents were? Which one of the men will she end up with? Or with neither? Many questions for the reader to contemplate while turning the pages of this delightful novel.
Beautiful writing makes it a pleasure to read. Historical detail offers the reader a fine view of the early Victorian era, the 1840's-1850's. We are given the story with flashbacks as Amy spends months on the treasure hunt.
A few editorial review comments by others:
"This charming character captured my heart, and her compelling adventure kept me turning the pages. A total delight!" (Kathleen Grissom, author of The Kitchen House and Glory over Everything)
"A hugely appealing tale of the endurance of friendship. With the elements of romance, mystery, drama, and history, there's much here to love." (Library Journal, starred review)
"Engrossing...fresh...rife with mysterious clues, intriguing people, and varied settings." (Publishers Weekly)
If you like Historical Romance, do give this one a try. I don't think you will be one bit disappointed.