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A Brief History of Montmaray (The Montmaray Journals #1)

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,436 Ratings  ·  716 Reviews
“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 trick
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Published January 12th 2010 by Listening Library (Audio) (first published June 2nd 2008)
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Piper (An Ocean of Words) It describes the last months spent on Island kingdom called Montmaray- where the last remaining members of the Fitzosbourne's, the royal family live.…moreIt describes the last months spent on Island kingdom called Montmaray- where the last remaining members of the Fitzosbourne's, the royal family live. Everything is fine until Nazi arrive and Montmaray's royal family is forced to deal with the reality of the coming war. It's told from a young girl's perspective. (less)
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Jun 12, 2011 Mariel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: QT! QT!
Recommended to Mariel by: I read everything like all my favorites except 'Castle' readalikes. I need to expand!
Michelle Cooper is the Quentin Tarantino of young adult novels. Not really original, kinda wears their influences on most of the outfit if one is being honest, but what she does right is really hard to do and better, I think, than originality. (Not that I wouldn't agree that Michelle Cooper owes big time royalties to Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle.) Cooper is funny. I was down in the dumps and the two Montmaray books cheered me up when nothing else did. (This analogy might not work well for ...more
This book would have been a perfect companion for my fifteen year old self. I think I simply found this one too late to be receptive to many of its charms. This is a book that one should hand to a young girl to introduce her into a world that I've already found. I've already read I Capture the Castle, I've already peeked into the mad wife's attic, and Elinor Dashwood and I are old friends. I've visited Avalon, I've immersed myself in King Henry's court, and I already majored in European history. ...more
Mar 09, 2010 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, ya
I was completely captivated by "A Brief History of Montmaray" The plot builds with such subtle skill that I was absolutely sucked in to the breathtaking conclusion--even as I had kind of figured out most of the "revelations" along the way. What I love is that it goes from describing all the quirky, endearingly hum-drum aspects of everyday life (as "everyday" as it can be for the few remaining members of the royal family of Montmaray in their crumbling castle on an island two hundred miles from a ...more
December 11, 2013

It's not the perfect book for everyone, but for those who love I Capture the Castle and Code Name Verity, it should be a very good fit. The surface is the story of three princesses living in a medieval castle (almost) on a tiny rocky outcrop in the Atlantic, among the last few residents of the miniscule kingdom of Montmaray. The time is 1936. As the title implies, a fair amount of history is revealed, all of it accurate except for the ruling family and the island itself. Self-ap
Mar 11, 2011 Miriam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book surprisingly much! It was like I Capture the Castle only with all the things I didn't like in that book changed: the useless parents were less present, about half the obsessing about boys was replaced with adventure, and I liked most of the characters better. Plus there were carrier pigeons, storms, and Nazi attacks!
Jul 06, 2011 Hirondelle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Meh. This sounded much better than it turned out to be. And this time I even followed that one rule that I always skip and then regret, of reading a couple pages BEFORE buying the book, just to make sure. I think I was deceived because the first couple pages are a letter from Toby and Tobys letters are the liveliest, most charming pieces of this narrative.

This is somewhat derivative, it strongly brings to mind I Capture the Castle, up to secondary characters names (Simon), and as well in type o
Book Concierge
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 fini
This book is Sophie's first person diary/journal account of the events and people of the island kingdom of Montmaray. Set in 1936 the world is gearing up for turmoil, and it soon becomes clear that Montmaray will not be immune.

As the residents of Montmaray continue to relocate, and as the king grows more and more senile, the duties and responsibilities fall to his children and his nieces and nephews - most under the age of twenty. So, when an offer comes from an aunt for Sophie and her cousin Ve
Sophie FitzOsborne is a teenage girl living on the small island kingdom of Montmaray, a desolated place populated by a decaying craggily castle, wherein there are “as many Royal Highnesses on the island as there are subjects”. Sophie is determined to document life on the island, and armed with her trusty journal, she paints us a vivd picture of life within the castle, which includes a raving, lunatic King with a penchant for throwing chamber pots about his bedroom, extreme weather conditions, il ...more
Feb 19, 2011 Catriona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cried. Yes ladies and gentleman, ACTUAL tears sprouted. This book is just gorgeous. ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!

You know when you have a strong love for something, that’s so strong it hurts? That’s what I feel with this book. This was the type of novel that if my friends touched it I would go mad. I would physically warn them not to bend the cover, I want to cherish this book forever and ever! One of the short review things on the back says “Bitter sweet and delectable, this book deserves to be an ins
Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers

October, 1936 - the sovereign island nation of Montmaray seems an idyllic, impossible place. Sitting a scant few hundred miles off the coasts of England and France, Montmaray and her inhabitants are a strange, quirky bunch. With as many FitzOsborne royal highnesses (4 on the island, with one prince heir studying at Eton) as there are inhabitants, the handful of countrymen and women hardly stand on ceremony - especially considering how threadbare and impov
Bill Kupersmith
Oct 16, 2015 Bill Kupersmith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: me-emma
With A Brief History of Montmaray determining what it is that one’s trying to rate is the difficult part. I’d start by dropping any comparisons with Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle, tho’ both are set in the 1930s & purportedly the diaries of teenage girls living in rackety old castles. (The narrator Sophie FitzOsborne’s cousin Veronica would be quick to point out that theirs in not a ‘castle’ but a ‘fortified house’ featuring a ‘curtain’ - a word I’d not encountered in that sense since re ...more
Apr 21, 2016 Meredith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh, so good! This should really be made into a mini-series/movie. It is just screaming for an adaptation. Inspired by I Capture the Castle in the best possible way, A Brief History of Montmaray tells the story of the royal family on the island kingdom of Montmaray on the brink of World War II. The setting is wonderfully originally, especially for those who love stories set during the time period but get tired of the same formula used over and over again. The tiny kingdom of Montmaray was wacky ...more
This is a brilliant coming of age story set just before World War II in a fictional island nation off the coast of Spain. Sophia is a good narrator. She's quiet, caring and observant yet she doubts her own abilities until faced with a crisis. All of the characters truly come to life and become flesh and blood before the reader's eyes. The author does an amazing job sharing the history of Montmaray, complete with quirky ancestors. I loved the epic poem which Violet dismisses as nonsense but prov ...more
I read Michelle Cooper’s A Brief History of Montmaray what feels like a million years ago, but was more likely sometime in 2009. Obviously I bought it because the cover was so pretty and really evoked what was the ultimate feel of the novel. It feels like I read this book a million years ago because it was one of those books that I just loved so much that it sort of crept onto my list of Those Books. The books you recommend to everyone. The books that you clutch to your chest and hope to share w ...more
Ginny Messina
Oct 02, 2012 Ginny Messina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Sophie and her delightfully quirky family are the last descendents of the royal family of Montmaray, a small, remote and all but abandoned island off the coast of Spain. It’s just the family, a few servants, plus four Montmaravian citizens living in the village. There’s a castle, lots of forbidding weather, and some wonderful characters, especially Veronica (loved her!) and Henry.

I considered shaving a star off my review because of two annoying things. One was that the author failed to give a n
joy *the clean-reader extraordinaire*
one blurb i saw about this book called it smart and engaging. that it certainly was! it's like a much more accessible (and much less flat-out weird) version of I Capture the Castle.

the island's culture, geography, and 'history'
the crumbling castle in all its glory
every character under the age of 25!

here's a tidbit that will be of little interest except to me -- the narrator of this book is possibly the first ever fictional character that reminds me strongly of myself. (my husband would s
Miss Clark
Jul 12, 2013 Miss Clark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
An excellent start. Very plausible and a well-integrated use of historical events. Only misstep was the gay subplot w/ Sophie's brother and cousin. The reactions all sounded very off for that time period. It would have been much more of an issue then.

That said, the book did not amaze me as it did so many of the people that recommended it. I liked the character interaction, the family dynamics, Sophie's voice as narrator and the setting. It has a lot going for it, but something is still missing.

Based upon reviews, I eagerly anticipated this book. A fictitious island off the coast of England and Spain that had been settled and ruled by a family from Tudor England until the 1930s. Hit hard by the depression, money had run out and the island was now only inhabited by the royal family and a few loyal servants. Written in diary format and from the perspective of the king's niece, the author clearly used I Capture the Castle as her model. Sadly I found the pacing glacial and the diary format ...more
Oct 21, 2011 Jasmine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, 2011
Really a 3.5. This was a totally enjoyable book for me, but that might be because it hits a few things that I adore: epistolary (the whole thing is written as diary entries), about a family on a basically abandoned imaginary European island, oh and the family are impoverished royalty, it's set during the 30's right as the English king is abdicating and as the Spanish war is going on, etc. Oh, and of course there are Family Secrets. Maybe a little shallow but fun. I'm excited to read the sequel.
Lydia Presley
This book was a lot like I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.. but it added a bit more action into the story, unlike hers.

What I didn't like was 100+ pages of building up the story then all of the sudden turning around and throwing some really far-fetched, action grabbing scenes into it all. Just when I was settled down to enjoy the story that had been built everything was thrown into chaos.

I loved the ending to I Capture the Castle.. this ending I did not love so much.
Feb 28, 2011 Melee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I was surprised how gripped I was by the last 50 pages or so of this book. Up until that point it hadn't been particularly compulsive reading, but still enjoyable.
This is probably more 3.5 stars but I'm rounding it up. I wish there were more YA novels being written with such a wonderful setting as this one.

(Oh, and gotta love an author who mentions in her notes that she used some biographies about the Mitfords to help her with the historical setting!)
Vernon Area Public Library KIDS
Although this trilogy isn't new, it is newly relevant due to the popularity of BBC's Downton Abbey, with which it shares some common themes. For those who are fascinated by British nobility, strong female characters, the deprivations and dangers of war and a historical setting in the 1930's and '40's, The Montmaray Journals are just the ticket. Book #1 serves as an introduction, followed by book #2, The FitzOsborne's in Exile and book #3 The FitzOsborne's at War, which delve more deeply into Bri ...more
Jul 05, 2016 al rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"And now I will close up my book and stand, my chin as high as Queen Matilda's, and I will step bravely into my terrifying, exciting future."

5 stars every time forever and ever! This book warms my heart so much and I will gladly go on this journey with Sophie over and over again.
Jul 01, 2016 mikhaela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, wow
this is one of those books i wish i read when i was younger, honestly.

the narrator, her royal highness sophia, was utterly charming, mostly selfless but not without her own motivations and desires. her entire family was eccentric and quirky but still relatable in its honest depiction of what family is like. sophie wasn't as much of a character as, say, her hilarious brother toby or her intellectual and unladylike cousin veronica, but she's got heart and it is impossible not to root for her.

Jun 25, 2016 Becky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 21, 2015 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

First of all, I enjoyed it as a whole. The characters were awesome and three-dimensional, the protagonist was interesting and the concept was really clever. I also liked how you were never sure if it was fantasy or not for a while. It also blended really well with the history and politics of the time, and it eventually got really exciting and I loved it.

It's just...the beginning was too long. There was so much to be introduced and I just found it difficult to sift through the day-to-day life
i loveD THIS BOOK but i'm in mobile & about to decorate my christmas tree so i'll review later
Kirsty Smith
Sep 14, 2015 Kirsty Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I usually avoid book series, and I picked up A Brief History of Montmoray without knowing it was the first of a trilogy. I'm actually excited to read the rest of the series. The book is written as diary entries of Princess Sophia, the sister of the heir to the throne, Toby. She lives on the all but deserted island of Montmoray with her uncle the mad King, their housekeeper, her cousin the King's daughter and her younger sister, Henry as well as a lot of animals.

I have a slight obsession with rea
This is a quiet little book. It is a coming-of-age story, and given the fact that it’s on an isolated island with not very many characters, maybe it can’t help but be quiet. When I read the description that “two German officers land a boat on Montmaray. And then politics becomes very personal indeed” I thought it would be one of those falling-in-love with the enemy plots and one of the German officers would be a handsome young man who was more patriotic than evil Nazi and heroine Sophie would sh ...more
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Michelle Cooper writes novels for teenagers. She is the award-winning author of A Brief History of Montmaray, The FitzOsbornes in Exile and The Rage of Sheep.

More Info:
Michelle was born in Sydney, Australia in 1969. She attended a succession of schools in Fiji and country New South Wales, then went to university in Sydney. She started a Pharmacy degree, but didn't like it very much. She dropped ou
More about Michelle Cooper...

Other Books in the Series

The Montmaray Journals (3 books)
  • The FitzOsbornes in Exile (The Montmaray Journals, #2)
  • The FitzOsbornes at War (The Montmaray Journals, #3)

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“There’s a fine line between gossip and history, when one is talking about kings.” 49 likes
“The way she told it, the English counties are littered with aging spinsters who accidentally displayed a spark of intelligence at a debutante dance and were banished forever from civilized society” 12 likes
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