Book Review: Florence Grace by Tracy Rees

Fifteen year old Florrie Buckley likes nothing more than to run barefoot on the Cornish moors, enjoying nature and the freedom of the wild and open spaces. Her life is simple and while not always easy, she is content.

When tragedy strikes, she leaves behind her beloved Cornwall to live in London with the wealthy Graces, her mother's relatives.

The Grace household is ruled by her grandfather, the domineering and irascible Hawker Grace, who is determined to re-establish the family's reputation, no matter the sacrifices he calls upon his family to make.

To Florrie her new home becomes a prison. She is forbidden to mix in society until she learns how to behave like a lady and, above all else, like a Grace. The rules and regulations threaten to dominate her free spirit and she often suffers cruel and spiteful treatment at the hands of her aunt and female cousins. Her only support comes from the male members of her family, in particular her cousin and grandfather's heir, Turlington, who is often at odds with his grandfather because of his behaviour. But Turlington is a troubled soul, harbouring secrets.

Florrie soon realises that to survive in her new life she must conform though in her heart she will always be the girl from Cornwall. Losing her Cornish accent and way of speech, her outspokenness and stubbornness, and sadly her father's name, she transforms from Florrie Buckley to Florence Grace, with all the advantages and disadvantages of being part of a wealthy family.

When the Graces' lives are thrown into turmoil by a death in the family, Florrie becomes the one they rely on. Ultimately this event sets Florrie free.

Once again Tracy Rees brings to life Victorian society with its rigid class structure and strict views on morality as it affects the Grace family. Not only do they have to contend with these outside pressures, family dynamics causes friction within the home too. There is a lot of unhappiness in this family and it is interesting how each member deals with Hawker's dictates.

The ending was not what I expected. It leaves Florrie's future and, to some extent, that of the rest of the Grace family, to be interpreted by the reader. Some may be disappointed in the ending, but in my opinion it only reinforces the strength of Florrie's character. In particular, her resolve to be true to herself and happy, even if that means making some heartbreaking decisions.

Florence Grace was the highly anticipated second novel from Tracy Rees and like many I wondered if she could follow up the success she had with her debut novel Amy SnowI believe she has, but I was hard pressed to decide which book I liked best, though the more I contemplated this question, the more Florence Grace came out on top. It is a more thought provoking read.

Tracy Rees' third novel, The Hourglass, is due out in May, 2017. While I'm disappointed that it's not set in the Victorian era as her previous two are, I'm eager to see if she can work her magic in a different time frame.


  1. I have a copy of Florence Grace waiting to be read. Glad to hear you liked this one even more than Amy Snow, because Amy Snow was very good. Interesting to see she's moving ahead to the 20th and 21st centuries with her upcoming book!

    1. Amy Snow was great, but very different in tone to Florence Grace. I hope you get to read it soon. I look forward to your thoughts.

      I was very surprised to see her new novel wasn't set in Victorian England.