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The FitzOsbornes in Exile by Michelle Cooper

The FitzOsbornes in Exile (2010)

by Michelle Cooper

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2141754,496 (4.18)12
  1. 10
    I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (CMSnails)
    CMSnails: Many have remarked how similar Sophie's tale is to Cassandra's in I Capture the Castle. I would say that the style is very alike but the tales are much different. Both excellent reads!

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The audiobook performance is one of the best I've listened to. ( )
  lunule | Aug 22, 2014 |
Sophie, Veronica and Henry are now living with their wealthy Aunt Charlotte in England, having been exiled from Montmaray after it was bombed by Nazis. Aunt Charlotte is determined to have Sophie, Veronica and the new King, Toby, married soon, but they are more concerned with reclaiming their country and with the impending start of WWII. I loved seeing Sophie mature throughout "The FitzOsbornes in Exile" and use her particular strengths to pull the family through such a difficult time. This is a great book for anyone interested in the history of this time period, as it referenced many different events that led up to WWII. I'm looking forward to reading the next and, I believe, last book in this series. ( )
  TheMadHatters | Mar 6, 2014 |
As the title to this sequel to A Brief History of Montmaray suggests, the FitzOsbornes - the royal family of the tiny kingdom of Montmaray, an island lying midway between Britain and Iberia, in the Bay of Biscay - had gone into exile in Britain, driven from their ancestral home by a Nazi invasion. Living in the lap of luxury provided by their Aunt Charlotte, whose marriage to a wealthy Englishman had established her in that nation's high society, our narrator Sophie, her brilliant cousin Veronica, tomboyish younger sister Henry (Henriette), flippant older brother Toby (now King Tobias!), and (unacknowledged) cousin and friend, Simon Chester, all struggle in their separate ways to adjust to the dramatic turn that events have taken. As Sophie and Veronica endure the "Season," during which Aunt Charlotte attempts to fix their matrimonial prospects, Toby struggles at Oxford, and Simon undertakes a number of projects of his own, they must all of them grapple with the fact that Montmaray has been lost, and, coming together again, begin to plan how best to retake it. Quarreling as much amongst themselves as ever, the FitzOsbornes in exile, whether confronting deranged assassins or evading Nazi agents, are still a force to be reckoned with...

After my somewhat ambivalent feelings regarding Michelle Cooper's first foray into the world of Montmaray's royal family - I enjoyed A Brief History of Montmaray, but not quite as much as I'd expected - I wasn't sure how I would like this second installment. I'd hoped, given the fact that I found the conclusion of the first book stronger than the beginning, that I would like this sequel even more, and I was not disappointed. I raced through The FitzOsbornes in Exile, and enjoyed every minute of it! Yes, Cooper does sometimes feel as if she's doing a bit of an info-dump for the benefit of her readers - "see children? this is why fascism might have appealed to people..." - but it is never so pronounced that it takes away from the excitement of the story, or my involvement with the characters. And it is the characters - from Sophie herself, who suddenly seems so much more mature, to Simon and Toby, whose relationship is anything but simple - that really make this book worthwhile. I felt, in the first book, curiously distant from FitzOsbornes, and I struggled to work up much interest in their lives. Here, by contrast, I was completely wrapped up in their story, and dead to the world, while reading. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the third and final installment, The FitzOsbornes at War! ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Apr 24, 2013 |
Not as great as the first book (because of one very big spoilery reason), but still definitely worth reading. Having read a biography of the Mitford girls, it was fun to see their names and lives referenced.

So yeah. If you liked the first one, read this. If you didn't like the first one, you are crazy and I am sad for you.

*Stars: I either give 5 or none; either this is a book I will fight for, or it's not, and I only star the ones I am willing to throw down in defense of. Non-star books, please don't take offense. I am weird and my tastes are not necessarily indicative of the worth of anything.
  toplofty_biped | Apr 4, 2013 |
A couple of weeks ago, my friend B. (who sometimes comments here as the Baroness) mentioned A Brief History of Montmaray and The FitzOsbornes in Exile as being very Maureen-y books. Shortly afterwards, I was at the library* and happened to see the first one on the shelf. So I snatched it and settled down to read.

And, yes, these are very Maureen-y books. Which is a way to translate my slavering love for them into somewhat sane human-speak.

In A Brief History, we’re introduced to Sophie FitzOsborne, a sixteen-year-old Princess of Montmaray. Montmaray is a tiny island kingdom in the Bay of Biscay, where Sophie lives with her mad uncle, the king, his daughter Veronica, and her younger sister Henry. Her brother, Toby, the heir to the throne is off in England getting an education (in theory). The book is told in the form of diary entries through 1936.

And, yes, there are inescapable comparison to I Capture the Castle, as well what I read as down right references. This could have gone badly in several ways: it could have confused those who have never read Dodie Smith’s book,** or it could have alienated those who cherish it. In my opinion, Cooper manages to avoid either of these flaws, mostly by having her references be negative ones, slipped slyly into the story. For instance, the castle at Montmaray does not have a moat. For the non-ICC reader, they simply take that as a statement which makes sense in the context of its paragraph. For the ICC reader, there is a moment of triumph.

(The opening of the second book is especially notable for this: “I write this sitting at an exquisite little Louis the Fifteenth secretaire in the White Drawing Room…” It’s nothing like “I write this sitting with my feet in the kitchen sink,” and yet if the reader is familiar with the earlier line, it’s so clearly an echo.)

As a side note–this is the best kind of reference, in my opinion. Just the opposite of heavy-handed and understandable both to those in the know and those who don’t share the reference point. Like the dolphin ring in The Thief.***

But Cooper’s books don’t exist merely in a kind of literary vacuum, reliant on Dodie Smith. Sophie is not Cassandra, the FitzOsbornes are not the Mortmains, and the ways in which the two do intersect simply make the story more enjoyable. For one thing, Sophie is much more concerned with the wider world, especially in the second book, set in the hideous run-up to WWII. Against this difficult backdrop, Sophie, Toby, Veronica, Simon, and even Henry, must come to terms with the times they are living in, and come into their own. I found both books extremely compelling and enjoyable.

Although, there were only five Tudor rulers of England, not six.

These are the first two in a trilogy, with the third book being published next year. Can’t wait! (Yet another book to look forward too!)

Book source: public library for both
Book information: Knopf, 2009 and 2011 respectively; YA

* Despite the fact that I work at two libraries, this was a third library, which I was visiting specially. It has a larger collection!

** If this is you, what is WRONG with you? GO READ IT!

*** What, you think I can pass up an Attolia reference? HAH. ( )
  maureene87 | Apr 4, 2013 |
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16th January 1937
I write this sitting at an exquisite little Louis the Fifteenth secretaire in the White Drawing Room, using a gold fountain pen borrowed from the King of Montmaray and a bottle of ink provided by one of the footmen.
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In January 1937, as Sophia FitzOsborne continues to record in her journal, the members of Montmaray's royal family are living in luxurious exile in England but, even as they participate in the social whirl of London parties and balls, they remain determined to free their island home from the occupying Germans despite growing rumors of a coming war that might doom their country forever.… (more)

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