Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Montmaray Journals #1

A Brief History of Montmaray

Rate this book
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.

296 pages, Hardcover

First published June 2, 2008

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Michelle Cooper

5 books157 followers
Michelle Cooper writes novels for teenagers. She is the award-winning author of Dr Huxley's Bequest, A Brief History of Montmaray, The FitzOsbornes in Exile, The FitzOsbornes at War and The Rage of Sheep.

More Info:
Michelle was born in Sydney, Australia. She attended a succession of schools in Fiji and country New South Wales, then went to university in Sydney. She worked as a speech and language pathologist for fifteen years, helping students with learning problems. Michelle liked this job a lot. She got to watch students improve their literacy skills and become happier, more confident learners - also, she got to work in an office covered in Harry Potter posters and give herself smiley stamps when she did a good job.

The Rage of Sheep, her first novel, won a mentorship with the Children's Book Council of Australia. The Rage of Sheep was published in paperback by Random House Australia in 2007, with an ebook edition released in 2012.

Michelle's second novel, A Brief History of Montmaray, was published by Random House Australia in 2008, with an audiobook version, narrated by Melissa Chambers, released the same year by Louis Braille Audio. The novel was awarded the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature in the NSW Premier's Literary Awards and was shortlisted for the Gold Inky, Australia's teenage choice book award. A Brief History of Montmaray was published in North America by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers in 2009, and was named in the American Library Association's Best Books for Young Adults list. An audiobook version of the North American edition was published in 2010 by Listening Library, and a Vintage Classics paperback edition was released in Australia in 2012.

The FitzOsbornes in Exile, the second book in The Montmaray Journals trilogy, was published in Australia in 2010, as a paperback and audiobook. It was shortlisted for the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature (NSW Premier's Literary Awards) and the Western Australian Premier's Young Adult Book Award, longlisted for the Gold Inky Teenage Choice Award and named a Notable Book for Older Readers by the Children's Book Council of Australia. The book was published in North America in 2011 as a hardcover, ebook and audiobook, and was listed in the Best Teen Books of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews and in the American Library Association's 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults.

The FitzOsbornes at War, the final book in The Montmaray Journals trilogy, was published in Australia and New Zealand in April, 2012 and in North America in October, 2012. The film and television rights to The Montmaray Journals have been optioned by a US production company.

Her latest book is Dr Huxley’s Bequest: A History of Medicine in Thirteen Objects, which was shortlisted for the 2018 Young People's History Prize.

-> from http://www.michellecooper-writer.com/...

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,100 (19%)
4 stars
2,225 (39%)
3 stars
1,662 (29%)
2 stars
465 (8%)
1 star
168 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 844 reviews
Profile Image for Mariel.
667 reviews1,047 followers
June 13, 2011
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 someone who doesn't find Tarantino to be funny, I realize.)

Sophia writes her journal about what she cares about (her home and family) and tries to be honest as she can be while she figures it all out. They live in a castle. There's no money. She day dreams about a guy who doesn't notice her as more than a little kid. I've read that before, yeah. I liked that honest voice of not being afraid to make mistakes. The situation doesn't matter as much (okay, there are growing pains and it matters more in the first book than the second. I like the sequel even better!). I liked that Cooper knew what to take seriously (her characters), and could poke fun at the rest. At least enough for me to feel that what she could do right was more important than what she wasn't as good at. The perspective of a teen girl who DOESN'T think the entire world revolves around herself was pretty refreshing too. I'm not sure I knew any of those when I was a teenager. I doubt there are too many young adult novelists writing about those kinds of girls these days.

I read this on my kindle (before it tragically broke itself coughs) so I don't know page numbers. Somewhere around 19 or 20% it got really good. I admit to being worried that it was an average young adult book and too I Capture the Castle-y to be anything special. Okay, it's still not perfect. WAY too much happens in the final quarter. It's also a touch too whimsical (carrier pigeons!), in the way that whimsy would be used as a distraction to move things along (even in the sequel there are "Oh my god something BIG just happened!" segue journal entries). But what was good was good! I laughed out loud when Sophia figures out that something means something because of a novel she was reading (Oscar Wilde!).
Cousin Veronica bordered on being too Mary Sue perfect. Brother Toby was too glib (there's a reason but unfortunately his glibness can still override the reason when it should have ceased to do so). Sophia was at the heart, watching her family and seeing what mattered to her. Veronica being there for her when Sophia's parents died. Toby tried to keep people happy by laughing and denying his own pain of loving someone he couldn't have. Little sister Henry wants to be a boy instead of a girl. Sophia understands the kid's desperation to be outside onesself and making things happen, even as she's the sole family member to want things to stop and happen as they are.

But you know what? I was happy. Sophia learns about her family, she learns about the state of the world. It would have been a mistake to make Veronica, or housekeeper's son Simon (there's a twist that belies the initial ANOTHER Simon like in 'Castle'? And she loves him? And he loves someone else? C'mon! I've read this already), the voice of the journal. It amused me how Sophia peices together and expands her sympathies and horizons by reading novels, by observing the people she cares about and trying to sort out what was important about her days and her life. Sophia doesn't know that the Nazis are killing Jews because not everybody back then knew what was going on. Veronica and her educated friends know everything. They know too much by reading books and discussing things in safe rooms. (It was at times ridiculous to read about these ineffectual teenagers discussing things and their kingdom as if they had ANY say at all.) That would be really boring to read about. I find more interesting how Sophia develops her mind. That's another thing that is hard to do, perhaps harder than being funny. It must have been tempting for Cooper to have Sophia just ask Veronica the answer to everything. Kinda like in the Harry Potter films that have Hermione already know the answer instead of Harry doing his own legwork (that's why I loved Harry so much. He feels around himself, even if he isn't as book learned as his fellows). I got teary eyed when they tell Neville that he is worth twelve Draco Malfoys (I um might have cried when they win the house cup because Neville stood up to his friends and that made him braver than standing up to enemies). I didn't cry when Sophia is the heart of her family all along. She may not demand attention the way that they do, because she is too busy paying attention to everyone else, but she was no less vivid in her love. Sobs! (Not crying.)

Veronica, Simon, Veronica's would-be boyfriend and former tutor Daniel, their English friend (communist and aristocrat!) talk like this:

They are so ridiculous it is kinda cute. Sometimes. Still, I wished that SOMEONE would have mentioned it to Veronica that she was for a long time living off the hard work of two old women, one old man and a small child. The your highness shit (they live in a fictionalized royal kingdom of Montmaray that has no population after a war and disease) was too much to take alongside the "for the people" talk. Um, your claim to fame is being born of royal blood. Anthony? You're a wealthy aristocrat. NOT a real communist. Daniel? Okay, Veronica does tell him that he only had his education because he was lucky enough to come from a family of merchants who could afford to educate him (in the second book, anyway). Call Veronica out on it, somebody! But a lot of that is the second book and I should save it for another review. Duh duh duh! I can't believe what just happened! I'm too upset to write about it now. I'm going to make a cup of hot chocolate and retire to my room to review it in privacy. My hands are still shaking. I might mistype.

The Brief History of Montmaray ends on a cliffhanger! Duh duh duh!

To be continued...

P.s. I've had this theory for years that young adult writers from Australia are the best (I know that other goodreaders think the same. It's because it's true!). Cooper is going into my stable of hos!
Profile Image for Kelly.
878 reviews3,976 followers
May 26, 2011
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. (Not to mention the fact that I've seen Indiana Jones. The Holy Grail thing? Come on.) Cooper doesn't have to convince me these things are interesting. Thus, to me, this read like an info dump of history research with a story interspersed between that has been told better elsewhere.

But for all that, I can remember a time when this book would have made me smile and run out to find the sequel. And there were still parts of this that I really liked. The character of Veronica and her relationship with Simon turned out to be better drawn and more complex than I thought it was, the little sister Henry was delightful, and the last 30 pages or so actually had me sitting up and anxious to know what was going to happen. The writing was not bad at all, either. It was a bit bland, but had several genuinely funny lines and good bits scattered here and there. You can finish this in an afternoon and I can't imagine that you'd regret having spent those hours on this. But, still, the best I can say of it is that if you give this to a young girl and she likes it, then this is the gateway drug to a host of way awesomer books. Which isn't a bad thing for it to be at all.
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,361 reviews454 followers
January 20, 2019
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-appointed librarian Veronica and novel-reader Sophie are both realistic and pragmatic even as their gothic cliche of a country, kingdom, castle, and way of life are fading out of the modern world. The whole is a marvelous synthesis of Mitford eccentricity and the terror of another Great War, as told by a young woman more familiar with Jane Austen than the progress of the early 20th century. The tone is more Indiana Jones than Anne Frank and it must be said that the book rollicks. There is an endearing Portugese Water Dog named Carlos and an impetuous younger sister who prefers to go by the nickname Henry. I'd particularly recommend it to younger readers who like clever kick-ass princesses.


January 3, 2015

I'd checked the whole series out for Natasha, and since it was just lying around, I decided to pass an idle moment with it. And then I got sucked in, and read some of it aloud to Natasha, and she got sucked in, and then I had to read the next two as quickly as possible in order to hand them back over to her. Loved them even more this time.

Library copy.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,181 reviews
March 9, 2010
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 anywhere in Europe) to being this heart-pumping adventure of political intrigue and family tragedy and, ultimately, of hope. The characters are what really sold it for me, though. It's a cast of characters that, in less skilled authorial hands, could be laughable characatures but here it all seems absolutely plausible: the insane king; his stalwart, beautiful and bookish teenage daughter; the good-hearted, easygoing (too easygoing) nephew and reluctant heir to the throne (off to University in England); the niece on the cusp of adulthood (our narrator), who learns lessons about love and responsibility and heritage and progress; the other niece, Henrietta-who-prefers-to-be-called-Henry and wishes she was a boy (and acts like one); Simon, the son of the housekeeper who is so handsome and outgoing and with whom our narrator may possibly be in love--or, at least, deep infatuation. There are family secrets and Nazis and storms and peril. The distant allure of London and civilization beckon, yet crumbling Montmaray Castle holds fast to our narrator's heart. I've no doubt it will stay in mine, too.

This is classified as "historical fiction" and while the entire Montmaray family and "kingdom" is the fiction aspect, many key figures and events of WWII are woven into the story so skillfully and seamlessly. I think this is what all good historical fiction is about--giving you characters you really care about and enticing you to read THEIR story, while along the way you might actually learn something--or remember something that you forgot from much less interesting textbooks.

As for the inevitable comparisons to "I Capture the Castle"--I really don't think there are many besides that it's a coming-of-age story featuring a scribbling teenager living in a decrepit castle. And that both are quite good ;-)

Profile Image for Mir.
4,842 reviews5,003 followers
March 11, 2011
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!
Profile Image for Hirondelle.
876 reviews180 followers
July 6, 2011
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 Toby´s 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 character´s names (Simon), and as well in type of narrative, abject upper class poverty, and living in a castle. But where ICtC became a cult favorite by being quirky, somewhat unsentimental and unpredictable and, above all Cassandra´s voice and feelings seeming *true* to the reader , Montmaray never approaches that level.

First, I should say I have a problem with suspension of disbelief regarding the setting. The details of the setting seem awfully vague around the edges in questions of scale. I was probably originally mislef by the map which must be totally off scale. From the narrative it sounds like the Montmaray is so small it would not show up on any map otherwise. From the map on the book Montmaray seems biggish, the size of say, Madeira. And then there are all sort of details which do not seem credible, they have inhabited a off-shore island for almost 400 years, but they have no discernible accent or evolving language (hmph. No.). The island goes from a population that could support a fighting force of at least 160 men ( so I guess a total population 500 to 2000 I guess) to a dozen inhabitants on 20 years - even with the spanish flu epidemics, I do not think emmigration patterns work like that, not for long-independent isolated places where families have lived for centuries. (People living on the island would probably be able to keep subsisting there, paying no rent and living off fishing or kitchen gardens, as their ancestors have done for centuries and probably with not much use for hard currency on their island anyway. People ambitious for hard cash or other opportunities would emmigrate surely, but a percentage almost totally emmigrating to places where they would have to pay rent and leave their homes seems incredible. Even assuming the unbelievable generosity of passing ships to make stops to take passengers without charging passages! Consider maybe Azorean emigration patterns for example. Or other northern Atlantic archipelagos. Surely only islands with major natural disasters got emigration patterns like these?). Ok, this is a geek thing, but still if I suspend disbelief in worldbuilding, my belief in characters is damaged as well.

Besides the worldbuilding looking very flimsy, the plot also seemed very flimsy on a few things.. Just examples of stuff which seemed a bit out of the blue plot wise.

I would have probably have forgiven all that, if only I had loved Sophie´s (our narrator) style better. Sophie is the blueprint of a journal writing heroine meant to be dear to the female YA genre reader´s heart: admittedly bookish, a fan of the divine Jane (aren´t we all?), with a prettier sister (OK, cousin in this case) and eccentric younger sibling. The elements did not quite add up to charm for me.

So that was that, I did not particularly believe the setting, believe in the plot, nor particularly love the characters. Meh.

( besides the obvious I Capture the Castle, this somewhow reminded me of Summers at Castle Auburn which is a totally different type of book, but a good example of a YA heroine who charmed me).
Profile Image for Howard.
1,121 reviews67 followers
September 9, 2020
4.5 Stars for A Brief History of Montmaray: The Montmaray Journals Series, Book 1 (audiobook) by Michelle Cooper read by Emma Bering. I really enjoyed this. The characters and the setting were great. This is probably the most unique novel I’ve read set during WWII.
Profile Image for steph .
1,199 reviews70 followers
March 7, 2020
Review March 2020:

I stumbled across this series on my shelves as I was moving and I decided to re-read them, see if I still loved these three books as much as I did (8!!!!) years ago when I first read them. Well I can tell you that I finished this book finding myself STILL in love with Sophie. She's such a great character, sister, cousin, etc. YA needs more heroines like her. And the setting and the history had me more intrigued this time around. Still a solid 4 stars, its a good beginning to this family and the upcoming war.

Review March 2012:Started off slow and with a lot of character but the plot picked up about halfway through and the story just WENT AND IT WAS AWESOME. I love Sophie, I love that she is a impoverished princess in a falling down castle on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere in 1936. I love her family members and the way they all interact. I love the exciting/climatic ending. Onto book #2!
Profile Image for TheBookSmugglers.
669 reviews1,984 followers
August 23, 2012
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 impoverished the royal family actually is. Living in a decrepit, crumbling stone castle on an island surrounded on all sides by a cold and unforgiving sea, the FitzOsbornes are hardly your typical aristocratic royals. Princess Sophia is not the eldest or most charming (that would be her older brother Prince Toby), not the prettiest or smartest (that would be her cousin Princess Veronica), neither the bravest nor the most brash (younger sister Princess Harry), nor the maddest (the reigning King of Montmaray, Uncle John). But Princess Sophia is the storyteller of the FitzOsborne clan, and in A Brief History of Montmaray, through her journal she tells the story of the late months of 1936, as tensions simmer in a Europe on the brink of war.

As the months pass, Sophia provides insight to the lives of her family in Montmaray, their struggles and their daily routines - and then the danger that strikes when a pair of men in a ship flying a swastika flag lands on their sovereign island.

Well folks, the fact that I'm writing this review a second time, three years later should say something. A Brief History of Montmaray has everything one could want in a novel - compelling narrative voice, convincing and plausible in epistolary style through the eyes of our heroine Sophia, quirks, comedy, and just enough dramatic heft to keep you engaged throughout the book. Easily, the most winsome thing Montmaray has going for it is the voice and character of narrator Sophia. Now, this may come as a shock, but I am NOT a huge fan of the epistolary novel - this is because the style often feels forced or fake, and even some of the best stories that use the technique require severe suspension of disbelief. [2. See Elizabeth Wein's masterful Code Name Verity (Ana's review, my review), which pushes the envelope of disbelief, but is so damn good you're easily able to forgive any of the minor narrative hurdles.] But when an epistolary novel is done well, it is...well, magical.[3. One of my favorite novels of all time is Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life as We Knew It , which is a beautifully executed novel of this type.] And, in my own humble opinion, A Brief History of Montmaray delivers this same hugely successful, awesome calibre epistolary style. I *love* Sophia's voice, which breathes life into a surprisingly quiet story. Hers is a story filled with the mundane - discussions of leaky ceilings, cleaning dishes, dusty mattresses - but with a believable, playful edge. Sohpia's fears, her own self-conscious comparisons to her beautiful and capable cousin Veronica, her ridiculous (by her own admission!) obsession with a boy she cannot be with, all of these elements contribute to the quirky, effortless style that is Sophia's narration. Oh, and she's seamlessly funny, too, weaving stories through her own diary effortlessly. For example:
When I asked her what she'd thought of Pride and Prejudice, she only wondered aloud how anyone could have written a novel set in the first part of the nineteenth century without once mentioning Napoleon.

For all of her disparaging, self-deprecating remarks about how she isn't as clever as Veronica, Sophia has a way with words. On the character front, the other FitzOsbornes and supporting cast are similarly well done - Veronica with her insufferable logic is a wonderful counterpart to Sophia's more emotional and less-self-assured perspective; Toby's effervescence, even told secondhand through letters, is contagious; Harry's tomboyish prickliness is endearing.

The other huge standout feature of A Brief History of Montmaray is the setting itself. Compared to I Capture the Castle, Montmaray is a similar story of an impoverished, eccentric family living in a crumbling castle (and I think consciously pays homage to Dodie Smith's beloved book). But then, of course, there's the other aspect of the novel that separates the FitzOsbornes from the Mortmains - and that would be the historical context, what with Nazis and a quest to find a particular ancient artifact, and what not. While these elements are not the best-executed in current YA fiction (once again, I have to draw attention to Elizabeth Wein's wonderful Code Name Verity), the tension is high and I like the possibilities for direction in future stories the particular Nazi involvement in A Brief History of Montmaray affords. Yes, there's a strong dose of melodrama by novel's end, but the strange mix of a dash of superstition/supernatural involvement, a smidge of romance (not in the way you are thinking, though), combined with the compelling characters and stellar narration, make the novel thoroughly enjoyable and work.

And ultimately, that's what it comes down to, right? I loved this book. I hope others read it, and I am thrilled to finally get back on the FitzOsborne train and finish The FitzOsbornes in Exile and The FitzOsbornes at War very, very soon.
Profile Image for QNPoohBear.
2,959 reviews1,478 followers
July 29, 2013
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 provides the comic relief in the story. I also loved the literary references from Jane Austen and the Brontes, to Shakespeare and Tennyson. The plot starts slow but halfway through it picks up and doesn't let go until the very end. My only real complaint is Sophia's moments of introspection and speculation on great issues which seem out of character for her and a bit forced.This story will make you laugh and it will break your heart and make you cry before it's over. I highly recommend this book for older teens and adults.
Profile Image for Book Concierge.
2,733 reviews327 followers
February 20, 2017
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 mad 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.
Profile Image for Ann.
510 reviews
October 3, 2011
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 Veronica to come to England, Sophie is torn between her desire to see London and her loyalty to Montmaray.

I was instantly captivated by Cooper's style and I liked Sophie's voice and character. It felt honest and real and a good counterpart to all the other vivid characters of the story. The plot kept me guessing and I was surprised more than once.

Admittedly, this book is probably more 4 1/2 stars because a few sections did seem a tad slow. But, the ending was so much the opposite that I bumped it up a notch. That said, for me *personally* it was probably a four star enjoyment level as I was quite surprised (and made a tad queasy) by a few of the chapters/scenes. The book takes a rather dark and gruesome turn about half-way through (which thankfully doesn't last much more than two or three chapters), and while nothing was horribly detailed, the idea of night intruders and mutilation were enough to make me stop reading this book before bed - but not enough to make me stop reading it all together ;)

Not only am I curious to read the next installment - I've already ordered it :)
Profile Image for Heidi.
756 reviews174 followers
January 17, 2019
Shortly after New Years I sat down and selected a list of twelve audiobooks from Overdrive that have been languishing on my 'No Seriously TBR' for far too long. I'm hoping to get to one a month and feel slightly better about my depressing backlog. This was the first, and I adored it as much as I was hoping to. Now, however, I am faced with the issue of desperately needing to read the rest of the series. #mobooksmoproblems
Profile Image for BOOK BUTTERFLY.
150 reviews51 followers
October 26, 2009
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, illnesses and dangerous German visitors who trespass onto the island in the pursuit of artifacts.

A Brief History of Montmaray is written in the style of I Capture the Castle, and if you are a fan of that novel, you will definitely want to read Michelle Cooper’s compelling romantic, adventure. Though there are similarities, it's important to note that Michelle Cooper has definitely made A Brief History of Montmaray all her own. All the characters were extremely well drawn with strong, quirky personalities – from tomboy Henry with her wild recklessness, to Sophie’s beautiful and brilliant cousin Veronica, with her flair for political debate and historical facts. The novel transpires through the journal entries of Sophie, who is an extremely likable protagonist. I enjoyed flipping through the pages and watching her natural progression into a more mature young woman.

The plot of A Brief History of Montmaray was incredible. The elements of history, intrigue, romance and a dash of the supernatural all blended together in a fast paced, seamless manner. The unexpected plot twists and turns left me reeling time and time again. My heart was pounding especially hard when the Germans came late one night in their relentless pursuit of the legend involving the Holy Grail. But, the ending was what absolutely blew me away. I could not put the book down at that point. I’m not sure if Michelle Cooper plans on writing a sequel to A Brief History of Montmaray, but I would be most eager to snatch one up and continue on with the saga of FitzOsbornes.

This novel was also awarded the 2009 Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature and shortlisted for the 2008 Golden Inky Teenage Choice Award.
Profile Image for Beth Bonini.
1,280 reviews275 followers
November 9, 2015
The description of this book had a strong and immediate appeal for me, but I couldn't help but worry that a YA novel that was being compared to so many of my very favourite YA novels would end up being a disappointing pastiche. Yes, you will be reminded of I Capture the Castle -- in fact, the author pays direct homage to that book. Fans of the historical/war/strong female character genre will also find shades of Code Name Verity in this book, although Australian author Michelle Cooper got there first. There is the epistolary format, the eccentric family in a crumbling castle, a bit of madness, some romance, the faded remnants of aristocratic privilege; all very Mitfordesque, and deliberately so. But if you like this sort of thing, you will almost definitely ADORE this book. The author is a strong storyteller -- and there is mystery, suspense, intrigue and just enough politics/history to give the storyline some weight. (Personally, I love learning history through the entertaining medium of fiction.) I could say much more about this book . . . and have said some of it here http://bit.ly/1PykFoT.

One more piece of advice: DO read all three books if you are charmed by this one. The second and third books are even stronger, and the trilogy in its entirety is satisfyingly complete. With all the books in the world to read, I would happily read about Montmaray and the FitzOsbornes again. They made a dull, wet November weekend immensely pleasurable.
Profile Image for Karen.
715 reviews89 followers
July 23, 2017
Ahh I really love this book! It's such an interesting premise and I looove the setting and characters. I think Michelle Cooper has such a strong grasp on this world that she has built. Something about this book is so cozy and familiar, like it was one of my favorites as a child even though I first read it as an adult.

As far as critiques go, my main issue is that I feel like the narration style of this book is maybe SO much in Sophie's head that it left me feeling a bit removed from the plot. I'm not saying I would completely change the way it was written because I really do love Sophie and I think her voice is so refreshingly funny and earnest. There are just times where I need more clarity. The first time around, I had some trouble keeping all the minor characters and their relationships/roles to one another straight and I wanted more objective descriptions of people. Still, this is a great first book and I definitely would recommend it!
Profile Image for Amy.
2,556 reviews395 followers
January 4, 2019
Very, very similar to I Capture the Castle but I did not particularly like that book and I enjoyed this one.
I enjoyed it right up until climax/dramatic escape scene...and then honestly, I just sort of got bored. I don't feel inclined to find the others in the series. It was like, 'oh, that was nice. Okay. No more.' But I like the way the author engages with World War 2 and I found her heroines likable and winsome with only a touch too much angst.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,088 reviews181 followers
July 3, 2019
Sixteen-year-old Sophia Margaret Elizabeth Jane Clementine FitzOsborne (better known as Sophie), a princess in the royal family of a tiny island kingdom lying in the Bay of Biscay, midway between Britain and the Iberian peninsula, records the twilight days of Montmaray, just before the outbreak of World War II, in this young adult novel from Australia. With a population depleted by the ravages of World War I - the island's adult male population was almost entirely wiped out, fighting in the Montmaravian unit led by King John - and of emigration, an economy that had been bankrupted by the recent stock-market crash, and a ruler driven mad by his role in destroying his own people, Montmaray was in a steep decline, its royal family - mad King John, his scholarly daughter Victoria, his nephew and heir, Toby, and Toby's two sisters: our narrator, Sophie, and the tomboy ten-year-old Henry (Henriette) - practically the only residents left. As Sophie struggles with the decision to leave Montmaray - she has been offered a "season" in English high society, by her wealthy Aunt Charlotte - she also bears witness to the dramatic events, from a royal death to the invasion of the Nazis, that bring one chapter of her life, and of the life of Montmaray, to a close...

I was really quite excited when A Brief History of Montmaray was chosen as one of our "in the spirit" reads for the Kindred Spirits group to which I belong - dedicated to the work of L.M. Montgomery, we sometimes read books that have been nominated as being "in the spirit" of that author's work, in our book-club - as I have something of an interest in Ruritanian fantasy (sometimes also styled "Ruritanian Romance"), in which non-fantastic tales unfold in imaginary kingdoms. The praise heaped on this one by most of my goodreads friends, and by group members, led me to believe that, if nothing else, it would be an entertaining read. Unfortunately, I wasn't quite as charmed as I'd hoped, although the story did pick up a little bit for me, midway through the book. It wasn't that Cooper's tale was derivative - although it could very well be, judging by the frequency of comparisons, in other reviews, to Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle (which I have not yet read) - but more that I simply didn't care all that much about the characters. I'm struggling to put my finger on the issue, but something about them - perhaps because we see them through Sophie's journal, and her narrative voice isn't very strong? - felt very distant to me.

Still, as noted, I did get involved in the end - probably because the story switched from character study to outright action - and was racing through the final section, to see what would happen. I'm also, despite my lukewarm response to the first half of this book, planning to read the sequel, The FitzOsbornes in Exile (which our book-club is also discussing), so it obviously wasn't that bad. Hopefully I will feel more of a connection to some of the characters, in the subsequent book.
Profile Image for Katie Hanna.
Author 6 books106 followers
January 31, 2021
3.5 stars! I would have given this book 4 stars just for the story, but it's told in diary format, which ... is never my favorite. I definitely understand why the author wanted the story have that extra layer of subjectivity, it's a teenage girl's private diary, and it works pretty well for what it is--I just don't love that particular device. I don't usually like episotlary novels either, for the same reason. It just adds an extra layer of "telling" rather than showing which lacks immediacy for me.

Format aside, A Brief History of Montmaray is a marvelous story. I don't know whether to shelve it as historical fiction or alternate history, when it's honestly both?? Basically, it tells the story of a little island kingdom in the Atlantic Ocean called "Montmaray." Montmaray, I need hardly remind my readers, does not exist. But the author incorporates this fantasy island into 1930s European political dynamics as smoothly as if it really did exist.

If there really WERE a little island hundreds of miles off the coast of Portugal, settled in the 1500s by a Cornish nobleman who crowned himself King and gained official recognition from Elizabeth I, bringing a small village or two of loyal Cornish-speaking vassals with him ... making a tidy living through the centuries from fishing and trading and salvaging shipwrecks ... until WWI and the Spanish flu and the Great Depression decimated the population, leaving nothing on the island but an empty village, a crumbling castle, a mad old King, and a passel of befuddled royal children ... well, I think we'd be in exactly the position we are when A Brief History of Montmaray opens in 1936.

Sophie FitzOsborne is 16 years old, and she's decided to keep a diary. She's very lonely on Montmaray with nobody but her bookworm cousin Veronica and her intractable sister Henry to talk to. She's worried about her uncle, the crazy old King, who can barely speak in coherent sentences, let alone manage the practical affairs of his little island. She's worried about her brother Toby, far away at school in England. She's worried about her first crush on a boy who doesn't seem to notice she exists. She's worried about the leaking castle roof and the spoiled food supplies and the random holes in the middle of the floor. She's worried about the Spanish Civil War, the Communists and Fascists fighting each other, and what if they decide to turn their eyes toward Montmaray?

Also, there are a couple Nazis poking around the island searching for the Holy Grail. Whatever shall we do about them?

I loved how female-centric this story is. Sophie and Veronica and Henry (all of them under 18, yet!) make the decisions and save the day because there's really no one else to do it for them. Sophie is sweet, a little passive, a little naive, but slowly, surely stepping into her power. Veronica is a badass and I'm obsessed with her. I'm also lowkey in love with her, it's fine. xD Henry is an energetic, endearing young tomboy. All in all, a great cast to spend a weekend with.

My only caveat about recommending this story is its [necessarily] narrow and subjective view on 1930s politics (I mean naturally, it's a teenage girl's DIARY.) I wouldn't necessarily hand this to anybody who doesn't have a fairly good grasp on the real-life evils of fascism and particularly Nazism, because Sophie--like many members of the British/Western European aristocracy in the late 30s--is fuzzy on the subject of "are Nazis bad??" She gets a clearer picture towards the end of the story, when the Germans arrive on the island and ... um ... do spoiler-y things ... but still, it's a little vaguer than my historian's mind was comfortable with.

Still and all, this is Good, Spicy Stuff and I'm very excited to try the sequel. :D
Profile Image for Alicia Farmer.
579 reviews
November 16, 2021
4.5 stars. This was a pleasant surprise. I got it off a list of "Best Audiobooks written and narrated by women" in Paste. It started out light and fun: We read journal entries from one Sophia FitzOsborne, teen princess of the fictional island nation of Montmaray. She's just received an invitation from her aunt in England to travel there with her cousin Veronica for their shared coming out to society party. She has a crush on one of the village boys, Simon. She schemes how to persuade Veronica to care about anything besides writing her history of Montmaray. It's all very girly and swoony, but in a solid and confident voice.

Just when you think the biggest concern is going to be whether Sophia will get to go to England, things get exciting and the story becomes an adventure. I don't want to give anything away, because this is an all-ages tale of female fortitude and smarts that's best unfurled bit by bit. It's set in 1936 with the continental conflict of fascism and communism brewing. That, plus the fact that Montmaray's king is lurking in the castle, debilitated by WWI PTSD, and the village population has dwindled to a few families after great losses in the war and the attractions of brighter lights, make for an increasingly desolate feel as the book progresses.

I am delighted to see there are more books in this series. I'm not ready to be done with Sophia and her family.

One interesting note: For an audiobook that highlights its narrator, I was surprised she sounded like she had a cold for much of her reading. I found the congested-nose voice off-putting.

For fans of I Capture the Castle and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.
Profile Image for Catriona.
62 reviews24 followers
February 19, 2011
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 instant classic” (Kate Forsyth). I completely agree. This whole book has been produced (and I say produced, not written, as it is fantastic in every way) wonderfully, I’m very glad it won an Ethel Turner Prize.

Anyway, on to WHY it is so wonderful.

All the characters have been beautifully written. I’m not usually a big fan of ‘first person’ books, but this one does it wonderfully (as it IS in the form of a diary). Every single character has been well thought through, and it’s very easy to pick your favourites and your most disliked. I found myself connecting with Sophie (the main character), in ways I never thought possible through a book. In some ways I want to be part of 1936, where Sophie couldn’t even say the word “gay” and had to replace it with “the love that dares not speak it’s name”. Oh, it’s just wonderful! When reading this you get to really lose yourself in the book and leave your life, have an out-of-body experience. It’s just fantastic.

The themes, (oh gosh, I’m sounding like Slocombe) are so contrasting yet they seem to fit so well together. The Sunday age has written “Adventure, intrigue, romance, and the supernatural… bound together by a ripping plot.” That just sums it up in a mouthful. In amongst all the war and family troubles, she still had time to write about her crushes. Michelle Cooper managed to incorporate nightmares, with caring for your dog, handstands, and manslaughter. How the heck do you do that? Well, however hard and unbelievable it all seems, this author has managed it. And managed it well. At one point I was laughing at the witty writing, next minute I was sitting around with goose bumps running up and down my arm. And then I was crying!

The great thing about this is that it was scary because it was so real. It’s not like reading a fantasy novel and this imaginary monster is coming to kill you in you’re sleep. It was these soldiers trespassing on your home, breaking and entering, with a gun! And all you can think is ‘Hey. That could happen right now.’ And it’s frightening. That’s what makes a good book. When you can cry and laugh and then you have to leave the door slightly ajar just in case you need to make a run for it.

Anyhoo, have I convinced you enough yet?

This book is great for anyone looking for a good read. I give it a very, very deserving 12/10.

A small passage:

It was terrible. It was as bad as the day we buried George.

It was the stuff of nightmares.

I leant over the side of the boat, as I’d done so many times before in my dreams, but I wasn’t scared this time. I was furious.

“Damn you!” I screamed into the wind and the water. “Don’t you dare try to stop us!” A wave reached up and slapped me in the face. “Isabella!” I shouted, leaning over further. “Don’t let them!”

Profile Image for Bill Kupersmith.
Author 1 book196 followers
October 16, 2015
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 reading Tristram Shandy - still showing the effects of Napoleonic cannon fire.) For all her goofiness (& OTT efforts to become an American bestseller), Dodie Smith was writing essentially realistic fiction. But Michelle Cooper’s story is . . . what? I think the technical label is, an imaginary history.

Many years ago, I read a delightful book by John Sack entitled Report from Practically Nowhere, about a journey through the world’s smallest independent states, such as Lichtenstein & San Marino - the tiniest was a 150 ft. squared house in Rome, headquarters of the Knights of Malta. Had Sacks been travelling in the 1930s, Montmaray would have been on his itinerary, a tiny island in the Bay of Biscay, ruled over by a dotty king, Sophie's uncle John. So Sophia is actually HRH Princess Sophia, & she has a younger sister Henrietta (a tomboy obsessed with pirates who insists on being called ‘Henry’) & an elder brother Toby who is a schoolboy in England & the heir to the throne, as Montmaray observes the Salic Law so King John’s daughter, Sophie's cousin Veronica, cannot inherit the kingdom. But altho’ Lilliputian, Montmaray will find itself caught in the rising tides of the tragic European history of the 1930s, with exciting & dramatic effects on the royal family of the FitzOsbornes.

Personally, I am fascinated by imaginary kingdoms, as a child I invented my own, an island somewhere in the Atlantic inhabited by pirates, & I continued to elaborate on it & develop it as I lay in the dark awaiting the arrival of sleep well into adulthood. Sometimes I wonder what fantasy realms other supposedly serious adults may inhabit before they nod off. Does the professor of ethics rule over the just city as the philosopher king or the professor of women’s studies preside @ the council of Amazon wise women? Whilst A Brief History of Montmaray is marketed as a book for young people, I expect some of them will find out more about such historic events as the Spanish Civil War than they could ever want to know, but that many of us older people, especially crazy romantic types with overactive imaginations, will love it. I’ve already got the audio version for the next book in the series, The FitzOsbornes in Exile.
Profile Image for Deborah.
Author 6 books24 followers
April 11, 2011
A couple of months ago, a friend sent a short list of recommended YA reads. On this list was A Brief History of Montmaray, with the note: "I don't normally go in for princesses but this one is pretty awesome." I've never been interested in princesses, either, so the note piqued my curiosity. What would make a princess interesting to me?

A Brief History of Montmaray, apparently!

Sophia, whose journal entries comprise this brief history, is one of several princesses of the island of Montmaray. The eldest princess, Sophia's cousin Veronica, is daughter of the current--not-quite-sane--King John. Sophia's sister is the youngest princess (who'd rather be a prince, thank you very much); her brother, the prince, is away studying in England. As the number of villagers grows increasingly sparse, the girls must manage the castle virtually on their own.

Even before Nazi-related trials and tribulations enter the story, it's a captivating tale of survival, humor and grace. The girls matter-of-factly face a unique set of circumstances that, to them, are simply ordinary life. Each girl is so vibrantly portrayed and so realistic, I felt increasingly as I turned the pages they were good friends I've known my whole life. Part of this might be a testament to how deeply I relate to their circumstances, given that I was one of four siblings who survived childhood despite poverty, isolation and a parental figure whose mental illness made her more of a parental figurehead than a parent in some regards. Mostly, though, I think it's Michelle Cooper's compassionate, loving, poignant depiction of each of the girls and all the other characters of this stunning novel.

When everything goes awry even by the girls' standards, the book becomes impossible to set down. (It was merely "extremely difficult" before.) I plowed through the last 100 pages this morning before my son awakened. I rejoiced at the book's beautiful conclusion, which so comforts me given how it mirrors my own life questions at the moment, and also at the fact there are more Montmaray books waiting to be devoured by me. If only I'd checked them out preemptively!

If you don't enjoy princess tales, you might nevertheless enjoy this princess tale, and the fiercely independent, precocious princesses who make it such a beautiful, delightful tale of survival.
Profile Image for Pam.
1,009 reviews
March 30, 2010
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 limiting. The historical fiction was marginal and main character too ignorant and anti-intellectual for me to even care what happened to her. I spent a lot of time skimming and skipping.
Profile Image for al.
128 reviews10 followers
December 7, 2020
"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.
Profile Image for Lynn Spencer.
1,194 reviews80 followers
February 28, 2020
I rather enjoyed reading this one. It's an odd mixture of obvious homage to I Capture the Castle and yet something original. Told from the journal of Sophie FitzOsbourne, we see the royal family of the tiny island kingdom of Montmaray as they move through life in their crumbling castle. What sets this book apart is that instead of feeling like the family lives in a world out of time, we see them instead on a collision course with outside historical events.

As Europe heads toward World War II, this tiny island near England is vulnerable rather than being a safe haven and that definitely comes through in the tone of the story. The first part of the book focuses very much on Sophie, her family and her hopes for the future. However, as the story develops we start seeing more and more mentions of world affairs and more instances of the outside world coming to call at Montmaray. While the story dragged a tad at times, it was a good read.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,220 reviews1,651 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
February 5, 2019
Enjoyed the start of this book, which reads very heavily like I Capture the Castle, so heavily that pretty much every review of this book notes the fact. I adore I Capture the Castle and was charmed early on by A Brief History of Montmaray, which is about a girl coming of age in a crumbling castle technically ruled by her antisocial uncle who hardly leaves his room. Stiche spends most of her time admiring her elder sister and mooning over the housekeeper's son. However, the charm began to wear off as nothing happened in the book and Sophie's observations in her journal become realistically redundant. Yes, people are redundant in their actual journals, but in a novel that realism is not charming.
Profile Image for Carmen Liffengren.
791 reviews33 followers
September 5, 2018
3.5 Stars

It's a good thing I love I Capture the Castle because this book more than borrows from that epistolary novel. There's Sophie, ever reminiscent of Cassandra, using her journal to tell the story of the remaining FitzOsborne royal family in the deteriorating castle on the Isle of Montmaray. It's almost plagiarism of Dodie Smith's novel, that is, until the narrative diverges when some German officers find themselves on Montmaray. I enjoyed many aspects of this novel and I am rather curious to read the next installment, The FitzOsbornes in Exile.
Profile Image for Whatchyareading.
345 reviews84 followers
May 18, 2011
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 with your future kids. The kind of book that reminds you of the spirit of one of your all time favorites and captures that same magic for you (for this book it was I Capture the Castle). If I’d had a blog way back when, I’d have gushed about it. But I didn’t. And I’ve been busy. So my gushing has been forestalled to…now.

A Brief History of Montmaray tells the story of Sophie Fitzosborne and her family. They live on the tiny island of Montmaray and, though they’re poorer than dirt, they also happen be the island’s royal family. A Brief History is told through Sophie’s diary as she chronicles the events of the island. In 1936. When this little thing called World War II was gearing up but before anyone really knew what the heck was going on. Montmaray has always been isolated, but now Sophie and her eccentric clan are thrust into the middle of something bigger than the tiny island could have ever imagined.

This book was magic. All of the characters, the plot, the writing, the pace…they all blended seamlessly to come together in the form of a suspenseful and moving book. I think the fact that this was written like a diary is what really reminded me of I Capture the Castle. The eccentric family in the rundown castle are similar, but it was the gorgeous voice of first Cassandra and then Sophie that spoke to me. Now, aside from the very basic premise mentioned above, the two books aren’t really alike at all. But, as I said, they had that same kind of magic. And reading Sophie’s words felt like magic for me. Her words were vivid, and I found myself feeling like I was trapped on this island with her.

Sophie was an amazing lead. Strong and independent but still young and unsure. Stuck on this tiny island which at times felt like a prison but was always, always home. I held my breath as she found out about the things happening on the island. I wanted to hug her through some of the darker times. I wanted to curl up in the castle and laugh with her too. Sophie is the kind of character you want to share with young girls everywhere, because she’s feisty and independent but still down to earth and pretty wholesome. Sure, it’s 1936, but I can appreciate that about her. And the fact that she wasn’t the only smart, capable girl in the book was refreshing.

The plot of this book was so well done. The pace was perfect, which is hard to do when it’s told through a diary form that kind of has to happen AFTER things have happened. But this was, underneath the coming-of-age feeling of the book, a war novel as well. My heart pounded in the later chapters and I clutched my chest (actually clutched it, y’all) in parts. And when I got to the end and it was the end? Heartbroken that there was no more.

Funnily enough, I actually had no idea that this book even had a sequel, The Fitzosbornes in Exile until right when that book was about to be released. I haven’t read the sequel yet because none of my local bookstores have had it in stock. But as soon as I can get it in my hot little hands you better believe I’ll be plowing through it.

A Brief History of Montmaray was a refreshingly smart book that had the timeless magic so many books now are missing. I can’t recommend it enough, and I can’t wait to read more about Sophie and her crazy clan.

Reviewed at WhatchYAreading on May 13, 2011.
Profile Image for meredith.
240 reviews40 followers
April 21, 2016
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 and weird, yet always felt real and fully developed. The ramifications of being an impoverished family living on an island with only a handful of people were explored, and the politics of being such a small kingdom on the edge of a huge war were super interesting to me. I became so attached to all the princes and princesses of Montmaray. Charming Toby reminds me of my own brother, Henry with all her escapades made me love her, I fell in love with Veronica as the sharp-tongued scholar (esp this bit: “I’m being serious!” I protested. “What if you fall in love?” “I won’t,” she said. “I’ll just have lots of affairs with good-looking young men.”), and I felt a kinship with narrator Sophia who feels unremarkable as the center of her own story. When things become desperate at the end of the novel, I was worried for all of them and for the future of their beautiful, crumbling island. A few tears may have been on the verge of shedding while reading this book.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 844 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.