A Foundling’s Journey of Discovery

Amy Snow: A Novel, by Tracy Rees, (Simon & Schuster), 576 pages, released 7 June, 2016

If you’ve hit the summer reading doldrums, you’re in luck. Amy Snow is a delightful read: one of those long, suspenseful novels peopled with characters you’d like to meet in real life.

The Amy Snow of the title is a foundling unwillingly admitted to the wealthy Vennaway household in the mid-1800s, after being found by eight-year-old Aurelia Vennaway. Despised by the Vennaway parents, Amy has spent her life as a servant of sorts, but Aurelia adores her. When Aurelia is diagnosed with a deadly heart condition, she insists on having Amy as a full-time companion. After Aurelia’s death, Amy is evicted from the Vennaway home having received only a small bequest of £10. This is where the novel begins.

As Amy leaves the Vennaway home, she’s stopped by a local school teacher, who presents her with a small wooden box left with him before Aurelia’s death. A note inside the box explains that Aurelia has arranged a “treasure hunt” for Amy, a more complex version of a game they played as children. Thus begins Amy’s journey, which has her traveling across England. Over her travels, Amy comes to know both Aurelia and herself in ways she’s never imagined. She makes friends at each step in her journey, and many of these friends have additional clues from Aurelia to pass on to Amy.

The novel is a bit predictable: Amy, of course, solves Aurelia’s puzzle; she attends balls; she’s also courted by a pair of men, both quite charming—at least on the surface. Nonetheless, the writing is quite good and the novel has enough uncertainty to keep readers turning pages. When you need a long read with lovable characters, Amy Snow may be just the thing.


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