Brief History of Montmaray – book review

A Brief History of Montmaray
The Montmaray Journals, book #1
by Michelle Cooper
Historical Fiction
* * * * Stars (Great!)

Sophie is one of the last of the FitzOsbornes – a little known family of royals living in a dilapidated castle on the tiny island of Montmaray somewhere off the coast of Spain.  She begins chronicling her life on the island after receiving a journal for her 16th birthday.  It’s 1936, Hitler and his Nazis are coming into power, there’s talk of war, the king of Montmaray is out of his mind…  And Sophie’s Aunt is attempting to bring them all to Great Britain for proper finishing and an introduction into society.  Sophie would love to go, but her cousin, Veronica, and her younger sister, Henry, will be difficult to convince.  Meanwhile, Sophie is caught up in some powerful (and confusing) feelings for the housekeeper’s son (who is acting as the FitzOsbornes’ agent in the British Isles).  Still, things are relatively quiet and normal until the Germans come and all hell breaks loose.  Montmaray and the FitzOsbornes will never be the same.

Somewhat reminiscent of I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith), Sophie captures all of her observations and feelings in her journal in a dreamy, adolescent fashion, until things start to fall – painfully – apart.  With three strong (and strong-willed) heroines, readers will come to love the FitzOsbornes in all of their shabby trappings, and will want Montmaray to exist beyond the confines of this book and to be restored – if possible – to its former glory.  The story continues in The FitzOsbornes in Exile.

Reviewed by YA Librarian


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