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A Brief History of Montmaray (The Montmaray Journals) by [Cooper, Michelle]
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A Brief History of Montmaray (The Montmaray Journals) Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Best of the Month, October 2009: On a remote island kingdom of Montmaray live the last of the FitzOsbornes, a royal family of scrappy (but dignified) orphans teetering on the edge of poverty in their crumbling castle. It’s 1936, and sixteen-year-old Sophie occupies her days with mundane household chores, half-hearted study in the family library, raising her unruly tomboy sister, and keeping a diary of distant hopes and longings. Her older cousin Veronica—a budding scholar—writes a history of the Montmaravians while keeping close tabs on the current political signs that point to another world war. One of those signs--in the form of a boat carrying Nazi "historians"--lands on their shores. The arrival of the Germans sets in motion a chain of events that rivals any of the high adventures of the princesses’ colorful ancestors. Michelle Cooper’s A Brief History of Montmaray breathes new life into the dark and stormy romantic suspense novels that made earlier generations ardent fans of the Bröntes, Daphne du Maurier, and Victoria Holt. Teens and 'tweens will be tearing through the novel's second half by the night light. --Lauren Nemroff

From School Library Journal

Grade 7–10—It's 1936, and 16-year-old Sophie FitzOsborne lives on the edge of poverty in an island castle off the coast of England. With her cousin Veronica; her younger sister, Henry; a dog named Carlos; and her reclusive Uncle John—the mad king of Montmaray—for company, Sophie spends her days helping her cousin and the few remaining servants keep house while documenting her dreams and experiences in her journal. The girls' intellects and fierce determination are put to the test when the Nazis invade their island and quickly turn their state of solitude into a struggle for survival. This book has a bit of everything: romance, betrayal, a haunting, espionage, psychological discord, intimate liaisons, and murder. Although the beginning is heavily laden with the protagonist's accounts of historical events, the mood eventually shifts to an exciting pace illustrating the heroine's adventures and courageous endeavors to preserve her family's bond and royal lineage.—Kimberly Monaghan, formerly at Vernon Area Public Library, IL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 600 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (October 5, 2009)
  • Publication Date: October 13, 2009
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #434,736 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Because I have nine grandchildren, 5 of which fall into the category of teen or young adult, I read many teen and young adult books as a preface to providing them as gifts. A Brief History of Montmaray is at the top of my list for being entertaining, suspenseful, and well-written. The author paints such a vivid picture of this island and its inhabitants -- all through the eyes of a young teenage girl -- that it's hard to believe it's a fictitious place. I had to put a sweater on while reading because I could feel the chill in the dark and dank castle! What a talent Michelle Cooper has to be able to bring the characters so effectively to life just through a first person narrative! I'm not a teen or young adult, but I was totally captivated by the story, and I'm hoping for a sequel. Ms. Cooper didn't have to resort to vampires, werewolves, or the like to write a terrific book -- scary Nazis work just as well. I highly recommend it to teens, tweens, young adults, grandmothers -- anyone looking for a good read. The only problem was it was over too soon!
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Format: Hardcover
Sophia FitzOsborne lives with her cousin Veronica, and her younger sister and tomboy Henry on the small island of Montmaray, located in the Bay of Biscay. They, along with Sophia's older brother Toby, are the last descendants of the royal family of Montmaray, and despite their titles, live in near poverty in their crumbling castle. Sophia begins writing about her life and dreams in her journal as war brews in Europe and crises strike the small island. Then, when a small group of Nazis arrive at Montmaray, wanting to see the castle's library, everything changes irrevocably for the FitzOsbornes and their tiny country.

A Brief History of Montmaray is simply divine. It is the best imaginable combination of wit, hardship, love, adventure, and history. Sophia is such a genuine and truly likable character, and her clever descriptions of her home and the quirky and unique individuals that inhabit Montmaray are unforgettable. The wry and self-deprecating humor that comes with being poor is endearing, and as much as they struggle, the characters are dignified and strong and completely engrossing. Sophia is a dreamer, and while she loves her home and her family, she can't help but want to see London and experience the balls and parties and dinners her aunt frequently takes part in. She is torn between wanting to leave and loyalty to her home and Veronica, who refuses to abandon Montmaray. The life these orphans live and the history of their island is fascinating and impeccably detailed and researched, making it hard to believe that Montmaray and the FitzOsbornes don't actually exist. The action scenes towards the end are quite harrowing and filled with surprising revelations, making for a suspenseful conclusion. A Brief History of Montmaray is a lovely, unique, and entertaining book in the spirit of Daphne du Maurier, Eva Ibbotson, and Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle, and one that will make the rest of the books in your reading pile seem lackluster and boring in comparison.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
On a small island in the Bay of Biscay, between France and Spain, lies the Kingdom of Montmaray, home of Sophia FitzOsborne, her tomboy sister Henry, and older cousin Veronica. They, along with Veronica's mad father the king and Sophia's brother Toby, are the last members of a once-illustrious and colorful royal family dating back to the 11th century. But despite their titles and and wealth of familial history, the FitzOsbornes are nearly bankrupt, clinging to the crumbling family home with the aid of only a handful of loyal subjects. In many respects they are an isolated time capsule, a proud relic of happier and more plentiful times. In the fall of 1936 Sophia receives a journal for her sixteenth birthday and resolves to document her life -- the hopes, dreams, and everyday occurrences that make up her day to day life. She has no ambition of crafting an authoritative family history of the type Veronica works endlessly to compile -- but Sophia's scribblings are poised to become a critical record of a world on the brink of implosion. Montmaray may be small, but world events are destined to intrude on its shores, realigning Sophia's priorities and changing the course of her life forever. With the Spanish Civil War on one side and the heavy march of German Fascism on the other, Sophia is set to become the unlikely chronicler of a world on the cusp of war.

Sophia is an utterly beguiling narrator, her chronicle of life in her crumbling family home full of wry humor and razor-sharp, disarmingly honest observations. The first half of her journal has an almost fairy tale-like quality to it -- the closest literary equivalent that comes to mind is E. Nesbit's Five Children and It.
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Format: Hardcover
A Brief History of Montmaray is a book that manages to be both simple and complex at the same time. It is the story of a girl living a mundane life in a poor, isolated island with her family and a few friends. But it is also a story filled with vibrant personalities, from Sophie's intellectual cousin Veronica to her tomboy little sister Henry. It is also the story of a pivotal time in history, at the eve of World War II where the Nazis are already starting to meet their mark.

Many people who review this book compare it to I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith. I hate to repeat a tired theme, but it really did remind me a lot of I Capture The Castle. The feel of the books is the same. Unfortunately, I liked I Capture the Castle, but did not love it. I feel very much the same about A Brief History of Montmaray.

Let's start with what I loved. The characters. Without a doubt. Michelle Cooper created a group of quirky, charismatic characters who make you laugh more often than not. Sophie is a nice, fairly plain girl who is surrounded by extreme personalities. Henry has to prove to everyone she is all boy. Veronica has to constantly be intellectual. Rebecca has to be constantly unpleasant and worship mad King John. The list goes on. While the characters are eccentric, they are also well developed. By the end of the book, they are more than their quirks.

I also loved the idea of the book. Montmaray is a fictional island off the coast of England that has its own monarchy (I didn't realize it was fictional at first and had to Wikipedia it to find out). Sophie is part of the royal family, but other than her bloodline, she is as poor as a churchmouse. The book is very atmospheric. You feel the cold gloom of Montmaray, but also the beauty of the small, closeknit island.
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