Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Review: A Brief History of Montmaray - Michelle Cooper

Where I got it: Inter-Library Loan
Rating: 4 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars (Definitely looks like the Montmaray Island in the book. If you want to see the other available covers you may here.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: October 13, 2009
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 294 p.

Sophie FitzOsboune lives on Montmaray in a castle—well not technically a castle—along with her younger sister Henry and her cousin Veronica. They also live with Veronica's father, the king of Montmaray, but he has sort of been mad for a while. Sophie's brother send her a journal for her sixteenth birthday, which is where our story begins. Sheltered and living on the island, Sophie has only her journal as a close confidant. She writes about day-to-day life as well as her crush on their housekeeper's son. When the war starts growing on the mainlands though, eventually news of it reaches their seclude island. When Germans dock on Montmaray, things take a turn for the worse. As miscommunication and her uncles insanity escalates matters out of control, Sophie gets a first hand look at what the politics of war mean.

This story was very fascinating. It takes place in 1936, a few years after World War I, just at the beginning of the second World War. Montmaray though in the bay of Bascay, is quite sheltered and remote from all the news and hub-bub of the mainlands. They get their news from mailed over papers and the letters from Sophie's brother, Toby. I really appreciated the journal format. It allowed us to watch Sophie grow as things happened. At first her entries were of trivial matters, but as time wears on, with the war, she takes moments to reexamine what she originally though to be her truths. Sophie was a very endearing narrator and I loved her accounts of life on Montmaray. At times the story seemed to lag, I think this was due in part to them living in seclusion, and not too much happening when you can't leave an island with the population of less than a dozen people. If you are one who really enjoys historical fiction, I would definitely pick this one up. It was humorous at times, and horrifying at others. It had moments where your heart was in your throat and you had no idea what might happen next. I really think the fact that it was written as a journal added so much to this story. Things have already happened and are being recounted, but then there is more that happens afterwards that then needs to be told. It was part reflection, part in the moment, which made this story feel very real. I am very much looking forward to picking up the next story, FitzOsbornes in Exile in April. This story wrapped up nicely, but I would love to know what happens next.

First Line:
"Dear Sophie, 
Happy Birthday to my favorite little sister!"

Favorite Line:
"Today has been something out of a Brontë novel–strangers having staggered across the hostile moors to collapse upon our doorstep, begging for shelter, and they're not truly strangers."


  1. Ooooh ~ this sounds FANTASTIC. It's sounds like a book to snuggle up with on a rainy day. I like the cover too ~ the cover is diff here in Australia.

    I like journal books as well.

    Loved the review :)


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