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The FitzOsbornes at War (The Montmaray Journals) Kindle Edition

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Length: 562 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Age Level: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and up

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In this satisfying conclusion to the Montmaray Journals (A Brief History of Montmaray, 2009, and The FitzOsbornes in Exile, 2011), the surviving royals continue their exile in Britain during the war years 1939–44. King Toby and Simon are serving in the RAF; Sophie and Veronica train as secretaries (but end up acting as unofficial intelligence agents); and tomboy Henrietta is forced to attend boarding school. As always, Sophie’s journals provide readers with a fascinating view of wartime Britain. She notes rationing that affected even the affluent, overnights spent in damp air raid shelters, and the expectation that everyone—even the wealthy—will do their part. Private musings observe worries about friends and family serving (and dying) on the front, a grief-fueled sexual encounter with cousin Simon, and her uncovering of the true circumstances surrounding Toby’s disappearance in Belgium. The use of real characters (including U.S. Ambassador Kennedy and his children) is skillfully integrated into the story adding insight into complicated wartime views of fascism and socialism. Appended with an author’s note separating the facts from the fictions, this makes a perfect choice for teen devotees of Downton Abbey and other period dramas. Grades 9-12. --Kay Weisman


Kirkus Reviews Best of Teen's Books 2012

Starred Review, Booklist, November 15, 2012:
“…this makes a perfect choice for teen devotees of Downton Abbey and other period dramas.”

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2012:
“Absorbing, compelling and unforgettable.”

From the Hardcover edition.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ruth Anderson VINE VOICE on November 5, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am reluctant to write this review, as it means that my time with Sophia and the rest of the FitzOsborne clan has come to an end. The FitzOsbornes at War is the concluding volume in Michelle Cooper's epic Montmaray Journals saga, a gloriously evocative, rich tapestry of prose that evokes the long-lost wonder of a world about to be changed forever by an epic, globe-encompassing war. This third volume picks up shortly after the conclusion of the second, which saw Sophia, her brother Toby, and cousin Veronica risk their lives to plead before the League of Nations for the return of their island kingdom from Nazi invaders. When England at last declares war on Germany, Sophia and her family throw all of their energies into supporting their adopted home's war efforts. This final volume is the lengthiest of the series, covering the years 1939-1945 (plus a short epilogue), as such delivering a veritable treasure trove of historical fact, a richly atmospheric, absorbing snapshot of life on the home front. As aristocrats and exiles of a nation allied with Britain, Sophia and her family are uniquely placed to experience the full range of wartime life, from rationing and air raids to the political machinations of the Foreign Office's attempts to gather valuable intelligence on the situation in Europe. Sophia's final journal not only documents her coming-of-age through the fires of war but serves as a fascinating witness to the turbulent times in which she lived -- a savvy, insightful, and utterly absorbing record of a world and a social class lost to the ravages of time.

A sense of unreality pervades much of the first portion of the novel, detailing the first months of the war.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Maria Beadnell on October 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Wow, the rare trilogy where the final installment satisfies and the characters remain themselves while experiencing the growth you'd expect in their situations. I liked the characters, and cared what happened to them, from happy go lucky King Toby to prickly Aunt Charlotte. Protaganist and narrator Sophie is smart without being brilliant, gutsy without being obnoxious, with an emotional intelligence which keeps us rooting for her and which is appropriate for her time, her age, and her place.

Briefly, the fictitious island kingdom of Montmaray (population about 6) was invaded by the Germans in the first installment, leaving the impoverished royalty at the mercy of rich relatives in England. In the second installment they got used to upper class late 1930s living, and in this book war tears apart their new lives, their friendships and their family while motivating them to defeat the enemy and return to Montmaray. Along the way, the author skillfully explores wartime rations, the rise of the Kennedys and fall of the Mitfords, changing gender roles, PTSD, sexuality, mental illness, relevance of nobility, and wartime use of pigeons.

And it moves along briskly, mostly by the force of various characters' personalities and how they react to wartime challenges.

The weaving in of historical people gives the story such a feel of honesty--even though it is fiction. For instance, the younger daughter, Henry, goes to school with Princess Margaret. In the hands of a lesser writer, the dialogue might go something like, "Ohhhh, I hate Princess Margaret! She thinks she's so great but she's only 6th in line to the throne, even her sister Elizabeth is before her and she's never going to be queen, why does Margaret think she's so great?!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jaylia3 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reading the FitzOsbornes at War felt like catching up with old friends. Covering the WWII era from 1939 to 1948, this third book in the series is much longer than the other two, over 500 pages, but I never found myself skimming. The series began in the tiny, impoverished kingdom of Montmaray, a fictitious island off the coast of Spain and France, home to a crumbling castle and the dwindling royal family of the FitzOsbornes. Most of the adult FitzOsbornes are mad or dead, but the teenage members of the family cope credibly with the joys and responsibilities of their position. After being bombed by the Nazis, the FitzOsbornes flee to England in the second book, to live with their wealthy but controlling Aunt Charlotte. They are still adjusting to their vastly changed circumstances, having gone from isolation in Montmaray to immersion in the late 1930's upper class social scene, when the war breaks out in this third book. Defeating Hitler has an added meaning for the FitzOsbornes as they plot to liberate their kingdom from the Nazis

The characters are a large part of the charm of this series. The different ways they step up to the challenges of WWII create a vivid and intimate history of the war. Headstrong, animal-loving Henry (Henrietta) makes friends with wartime evacuees and longs to join the navy, determined and practical Veronica works for the Foreign Office, charismatic Toby, now king of Montmaray, flies fighter planes in the RAF, and Sophie, the very appealing narrator of the books, edits rationing pamphlets at the Ministry of Food. Historical characters make appearances both off and on stage, adding interest without overwhelming story. These include several of the fascinating Mitford sisters, JFK's lively sister Kick, feisty Princess Margaret who is mentioned as a rival of Henry's, and of course Winston Churchill.
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