Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review: A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper

Pages: 320
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: October 13, 2009
Source: Library
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."

Sophie lives on a remote island of Montmaray along with the other members of her royal family.  She decides one day to start journaling about the events at Montmaray, everything from what the crazy King does to the intense island weather.  Everything is pretty normal until 1936 when they find out that there's war on the mainland.  It all seems very far off from Montmaray until two German officers end up on the island searching for artifacts.  The war, then, becomes alarmingly real to Sophie and her family.  Michelle Cooper's A Brief History of Montmaray is an interesting tale that fans of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle will enjoy.

As I was reading this book, I couldn't help but make connections to I Capture the Castle, which I read a few years ago and really enjoyed.  Who doesn't love to read about a bookish heroine with crazy relatives in a collapsing castle? It's all very Gothic and romantic at times.  Granted, A Brief History of Montmaray is not as good as I Capture the Castle, but if you enjoy a similar story, you will like Cooper's take on a royal family living on a remote island.

It is written in diary format, which was both good and bad.  For the most part I enjoyed Sophie and her journal, but at times, it was a bit bland. My favorite part would have to be when the two German officers arrived. I was on the edge of my seat.  I also couldn't believe the ending of this book and now that I know there is a sequel, The FitzOsbornes in Exile, I must get my hands on a copy.  I think I may enjoy it even more since Sophie will be in London and hopefully attending balls.

All in all, fans of I Capture the Castle as well as historical fiction will enjoy A Brief History of Montmaray, but don't expect too much romance just yet.  Let's hope there is more of that coming up for Sophie in the sequel.

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  1. I like the sound of this one, although I have read a bunch of mixed reviews. Historical fiction set in and around WWII is a favourite of mine, though, so I should really check this one out!

  2. I'm not sure about this book. I only have seen the movie of I Capture the Castle, but I for certain was not what you call a fan of it. ;) Great review.

  3. Leanna- It's definitely not for everyone. It is an enjoyable read, but nothing mind-blowing here. Thanks for checking out my review.

    Nina- I wasn't a fan of the movie either; I liked the book much better! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. i've only started hearing about this series in the last month or so, i don't know how i didn't know about it before!!

  5. i have read "I capture the castle" and i found this book much better. the characters are fiery, lovable and comedic, whereas in "I capture the castle" the characters were confused irrational and you could never really distinguish whether the characters loved or hated eachother.

  6. i liked this book, but i loved the sequel "Fitzosbournes in Exile"

  7. I loved this book and the sequel as well. I'm excited for the third installment that should be coming out soon. I haven't read I Capture the Castle but every review I've read so far has mentioned it. I'll have to give it a try ;)


  8. I loved both of the first two books in the series and am eagerly awaiting the third (coming out soon). I haven't read I Capture the Castle but it seems to be mentioned in every review of this book :) Definitely going to check it out. Thanks for the review!



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