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A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle…

A Brief History of Montmaray (2008)

by Michelle Cooper

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Who can resist a story set on a small island, with a crumbling castle inhabited by minor teenage royalty and a mad king? Sixteen year-old Sophie, a princess on the island of Montmaray in the Bay of Biscay, received the gift of a journal giving her the perfect opportunity to write the history of the island. In doing so she recaps much of her history lessons describing the origins of the impoverished family. With the possibility of war on the horizon and the location of the island, life looks uncertain. This is a story of a fictional place enriched with real history, but mainly it's an adventure story even though most of the action doesn't take place until the second half of the book.
1 vote VivienneR | Apr 10, 2016 |
From the book jacket: Sophie FitzOsborne lives in a crumbling castle in the tiny island kingdom of Montmaray, along with her tomboy younger sister Henry, her beautiful, intellectual cousin Veronica, and her uncle, the completely ma King John. When Sophie receives a journal for her sixteenth birthday, she decides to write about her day-to-day life on the island. But this is 1936, and the news that trickles in from the mainland reveals a world on the brink of war.

My reactions
I was bored, and finished only because it satisfied a challenge. I found Sophie’s musings repetitious (How often do I need to hear about how cranky Rebecca is? How handsome Simon is? How stubborn Henry is?). At first I was reminded of We Have Always Lived in the Castle but that quickly subsided. I didn’t find the underlying intrigue about Sophie’s brother and who will inherit the throne from Uncle John terribly interesting. We’re to believe they are completely isolated, with little or no modern conveniences (no electricity, no phone, no motorized boat), yet when they need help they hoist a flag and miraculously a passing ship sees it and comes to their aid.

One of my pet peeves is cliffhanger endings that “force” the reader to get the next book to find out what happens. And that is exactly what this book gives us.

I know this is a YA novel and I do cut the genre a little slack, so I’m still giving it two stars. Some of the scenes were quite suspenseful, and some of the interactions between characters not only advanced the story, but were plausible. I also liked that the young women were portrayed as strong, intelligent, resourceful and determined. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 19, 2016 |
I loved this book. I love the characters, I loved the setting, I loved the story. Sophie lives on the tiny island kingdom of Montmaray, the only place she has ever known. She begins recounting her daily life in a journal at a time when her world is changing. The story, which takes place in the 1930s, is part coming-of-age, part historical fiction, part ghost story, and part action/adventure. Really fun read! ( )
  AmeliaHerring | Jan 22, 2016 |
Really enjoyed this, especially the main character's voice and arc. I do agree that folks who liked I CAPTURE THE CASTLE would be likely to enjoy this too.

It's interesting to be reading at the same time as THE EXPLOSIONIST, which also features slightly altered historical WW2 setting and a main character named Sophie/Sophia.
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
I'm not sure if it was my general dislike of YA historical fiction or this particular example, but I was underwhelmed by A Brief History of Montmaray. The story was fairly predictable, but with an impressively exciting conclusion. I found the characters to be somewhat single dimensional as well. However, as is often the case, this book was not written with me or my sensibilities in mind. I think that my 12-year old self might have enjoyed the tale, so my recommendation would be for younger readers (grades 6 and up). ( )
  Debra_Armbruster | Dec 17, 2014 |
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This is the journal of Sophia Margaret Elizabeth Jane Clementine FitzOsborne, begun this twenty-third day of October 1936, on the occasion of her sixteenth birthday.
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Dear Sophie, Happy birthday to my favorite little sister!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
“There’s a fine line between gossip and history, when one is talking about kings.”

Sophie Fitzosborne lives in a crumbling castle in the tiny island kingdom of Montmaray with her eccentric and impoverished royal family. When she receives a journal for her sixteenth birthday, Sophie decides to chronicle day-to-day life on the island. But this is 1936, and the news that trickles in from the mainland reveals a world on the brink of war. The politics of Europe seem far away from their remote island—until two German officers land a boat on Montmaray. And then suddenly politics become very personal indeed.

A Brief History of Montmaray is a heart-stopping tale of loyalty, love, and loss, and of fighting to hold on to home when the world is exploding all around you.

“Once in a while, a special book will cross our paths and make us grateful for life and the ability to read. I’m talking about A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper. I’m calling her Australia’s next stroke of literary brilliance.”—Viewpoint
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On her sixteenth birthday in 1936, Sophia begins a diary of life in a fictional island country off the coast of Spain, where she is among the last descendants of an impoverished royal family trying to hold their nation together on the eve of the second World War.… (more)

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