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The FitzOsbornes at War (The Montmaray…
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The FitzOsbornes at War (The Montmaray Journals) (2012)

by Michelle Cooper

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I couldn't wait for the 3rd of this series to come out! The follow book for The Fitzosbornes in Exile, don't forget the first of the journals, A Brief History of Montmaray, it was just as good as the others… I bought the first book for my daughter one Christmas not knowing if it were young adult genre or adult, I started it and couldn't put it down, hate to say I don't think my daughter ever got around to them. She will now ,after two nights of me telling her to leave the room and let me read just another chapter. The author made a foreign land and war of another time seem right up close and I was able to relate to a small kingdom and what they went through with family to the end, with a hidden twist to the end, or maybe I stayed up too late that night and missed an important turn of events. ( )
  mchwest | Jun 6, 2013 |


Sad the Montmaray Journals are over, for now at the very least. I hope she decides to write another. ( )
  Meganelise1 | Apr 12, 2013 |
It's absolutely astounding to read such well-written, meticulously researched historical fiction. What a tour de force! And such fun to read, too!

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys drama, romance, family stories, adventure, or books with great writing and appealing characters. In other words, practically everybody. It will particularly appeal to -- let us say -- disillusioned former fans of "Downton Abbey," or people who enjoy other tales of the gentry in difficult circumstances, from Jane Austen through K.M. Peyton and beyond. And if you are interested in life on the home front during WWII, this is definitely your book.

I think it makes a good adjunct to [a:Elizabeth Wein|52320|Elizabeth Wein|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1206789548p2/52320.jpg]'s astounding [b:Code Name Verity|14605837|Code Name Verity|Elizabeth Wein|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348717184s/14605837.jpg|16885788]. It's a gentler book in many ways -- not as visceral. But it is equally good, in its very different way.

It is the third in a series, and it definitely helps to have read the first two, but I think it could stand alone. (Of course, I've read the first two, so I'm not a perfectly objective judge, but I really think it could).

I loved it! It's a very entertaining read that carries considerable scholarship very lightly. Amazingly well done!

But one niggling question remains..... [a:Michelle Cooper|1858606|Michelle Cooper|http://www.goodreads.com/assets/nophoto/nophoto-F-50x66-2a9d702c2a0f483c9f7dd119cc28a9a7.jpg]? Anyone? Who is Davey's father? Seriously??!

Yes, well. Seriously, everyone. If you'd like a really entertaining read about being a young woman on the home front in WWII, this is your book! ( )
  deirdrea | Apr 4, 2013 |
I will say this up front: I hate writing this kind of review, because I want to love every book I read and most especially when I did love the first two books in a trilogy. But I will also be honest: The FitzOsbornes at War did not work for me. Many (many many) others disagree with me and you may well too.

There are two strands to this book and I want to address each separately. First, there is the experience of living through WWII. Second, there is the family story--the FitzOsbornes growing up.

I'm taking the war strand first, because it's where the story began, almost instantly, to crack for me. (I really like Karyn Silverman's metaphor for reading books as a cracking windshield where you can ignore a little ding, but enough of them over time and the whole thing falls apart. Or a rock hits you and it falls apart immediately) And the timeline is the issue here. On 3 September 1939, the first day of the war, Sophie is talking about evacuations. Six days later, she and Veronica know about Britain interning foreign refugees. And this continues throughout the book--at the end, in 1944, Toby casually mentions radar, with no acknowledgement of the Official Secrets Act, of how incredibly important and secret radar was to the British war effort. Now, I am NOT an expert and it's possible that by 1944 the secret was well and truly out. But all I really needed was a line from Toby to acknowledge that he was breaking the Official Secrets Act.*

Though these factual errors bothered me as a nitpicky history reader, what was really more of an issue was the sense that we were seeing the events of WWII as history, in hindsight, rather than really living through it with Sophie. Compared to Connie Willis's Blackout/All Clear, which apparently have all kinds of factual errors, but which for me as a reader catch at the heart of what I love about the story of Britain during WWII, The FitzOsbornes at War is oddly flat and affectless. I mean, did I cry during the big twist? Yes. But that's on the personal side of the story rather than the war story side. And usually you can say the word Coventry to me and watch me burst into tears--here I did not cry.

(I also couldn't help noticing and wondering about the way that the Montmaravians seemed to function primarily as Britons, despite occasional rhetorical flourishes to the contrary. I wanted either more distinction there, or less.)

Then there is the family story side of the book. Here, I was much happier--Sophie is a lovely narrator and her struggles to find her place in the world and her family rang true. I did wish that part of Toby's strand had been given a different timeline because it felt a bit shoehorned in. In general, I thought the pacing was a bit off, though Cooper may have been constrained by actual events here. But I was more invested in Sophie and Toby and Simon and Veronica and Henry, and I was generally pleased with how their different stories resolved, though I occasionally wanted a bit more about how they got there.

As a side note--I originally read this as an eARC from NetGalley. I wondered if I would like it better since there have been several books I read as eARCs which I subsequently read as print editions and enjoyed much more. But in this case my reaction is pretty much the same.

And I still really, really wish I could love this book.

Book source: NetGalley; public library
Book information: Knopf, 2012; YA

My reviews of A Brief History of Montmary and The FitzOsbornes in Exile

* As I said, for all I know, by 1944 the secret may have been out, but I'm also listening to the Code Name Verity audiobook and in 1943 Verity is agonizing over giving details of the early wireless network to the Germans. ( )
  maureene87 | Apr 4, 2013 |
There were things that I didn't find satisfying about The FitzOsbornes at war. While it is possible to have a character suddenly realise that what she feels for someone isn't just friendly affection, but romantic love (c.f. Jane Austen, Emma), I didn't think it was well done here. It wasn't that the character build-up wasn't there between Sophie and Rupert, I just thought Cooper's writing was lacking something in that scene—a little too confusing, a little too tell-not-show. Likewise, while I appreciated that the book was primarily about—and really good at showing—what it was like to be a young woman during the war, I did miss the interactions between the various members of the family and I missed Montmaray. I really was expecting that the island would play some bigger role in the war—surely its location would have made it a strategic prize worth retaking for the Allies, and that and its size a more easily attainable target, comparative to the Channel Islands?

Those quibbles aside, I really enjoyed this conclusion to the trilogy. Cooper is quite an honest writer—by which I mean, even though this is YA lit, she's not really afraid to pull her punches. I can't say that I particularly mourned Henry's death—I always found her a little tiresome, to be honest, because her character was just a tad too precious—but if there's one character who normally wouldn't be killed off, it's the precocious youngest sibling, and it definitely upped the book's emotional stakes. I'm also incredibly impressed that Cooper essentially ended a young adult novel with one female character having a career that successfuly combines writing, motherhood and building sustainable and responsible housing; another happily living with someone outside of marriage and never having children; and a third living in a harmonious polyamorous relationship with her husband the king and his gay lover? Two thumbs up. (Also, where's the fanfic?) ( )
  siriaeve | Jan 8, 2013 |
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I'm quite sure that, in twenty or thirty years' time, people will say about this morning, 'I'll never forget where I was when I heard the news."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375870504, Hardcover)

Michelle Cooper completes her heart-stealing epic drama of history and romance with The FitzOsbornes at War.

Sophie FitzOsborne and the royal family of Montmaray escaped their remote island home when the Nazis attacked. But as war breaks out in England and around the world, nowhere is safe. Sophie fills her journal with tales of a life during wartime. Blackouts and the Blitz. Dancing in nightclubs with soliders on leave. And endlessly waiting for news of her brother Toby, whose plane was shot down over enemy territory.

But even as bombs rain down on London, hope springs up, and love blooms for this most endearing princess. And when the Allies begin to drive their way across Europe, the FitzOsbornes take heart—maybe, just maybe, there will be a way to liberate Montmaray as well.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:57:58 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"In this third installment to the Montmaray Journals, Sophie and her family come together to support the war effort during World War I, meanwhile fighting to protect their beloved Montmaray"--

» see all 4 descriptions

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