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Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman?

(Montmorency #1)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  3,769 ratings  ·  464 reviews
When a petty thief falls through a glass roof while fleeing from the police, it should have been the death of him. Instead, it marks the beginning of a whole new life. Soon he has become the most successful -- and elusive -- burglar in Victorian London, plotting daring raids and using London's new sewer system to escape. He adopts a dual existence to fit his new lifestyle, ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by Scholastic (first published January 1st 2003)
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Hrmph. I don't know what I think, Goodreads. There were times when this book really seemed to be verging on something bigger than itself, and I kind of wish Updale had just gone for it. We catch hints of a psychological struggle between Montmorency and his alter-ego, Scarper...and I wanted to know more about that. It was at times as if the main character could not remember that he was both Montmorency AND Scarper, and I wanted to know why that was. But rather than an in-depth survey of the inner ...more
April Helms
Dec 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young adults (11+) and adults
The Montmorency books are a must-read for anyone who likes Victorian-era style mystery.

A small-time crook is given a new lease on life by an ambitious doctor after a near-fatal fall during a break-in. Now he has learned to navigate the sewer systems to enhance his life of crime, and has created two personalities for himself. But what happens when his two sides start disagreeing with each other? The story is told from the point of view of “Montmorency,” a petty thief with more smarts than he kno
An interesting juvenile book--there are no children/young adult characters in it.

This is the story of Montmorency, a criminal who slowly goes straight. Montmorency (not even the protagonist's real name; the reader is never told what it is or where he came from) was in a horrible accident (fell through a skylight), which resulted in his arrest and incarceration. A young, ambitious doctor treats Montmorency and then shows him off to the Scientific Society, where Montmorency learns about the extens
Jul 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Let me first clarify that the real rating I want to give this one is 2.5 stars. I did like it, but well... Okay let me explain.

Montmorency has such a fascinating premise. The concept is fascinating. A petty thief who goes from a life of crime to becoming a gentlemen? Yes please! It's clear the author knows her stuff when it comes to the Victorian Era, which was impressive, and I can now say I know more about the Victorian Sewage System than I ever intended to, but it made it all the more real an
Lady Knight
This was one of my favorite books when I was in high school, and reading it now over two years later, I have to say that it has lost none of its magic! Eleanor Updale does a great job presenting Victorian England and with short chapters and to the point storytelling this will be a winner with anyone over the age of 12!

Prisoner 493 was caught burgling a factory in the 19th c. After a horrific fall during the chase, Prisoner 493 (dubbed Montmorency during his trial) receives the care of Doctor Far
I'm tired of writing negative reviews. For the past couple of months, all the books I've been reading have been medicore at best. No more indie books for me.

Montmorency. Reads like a Young Adult book but was not written to BE a Y.A. which I see as a failing. The story was too basic and easy. Montmorency is a theif that got caught and was badly injured. We have no back story what so ever on this character, nothing. Just that they call him Montmorency and that he has severe scars on his body.

Jun 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: genre-fiction
Really dry YA fiction. I might have enjoyed this book more if there was even one likeable character in it. Every character seems one-dimensional and after reading hundreds of books about this time period and Englishmen with their men's clubs, I found that Montmorency fell pretty flat. Also, I am continually amazed when I read books that have negative-zero female characters...especially considering they are written by women! ...more
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
A pretty good series that I did enjoy and would probably rank it somewhere on my top 10. I love how it engulfed real events and places in with fictional characters. I love how Montmorency useshis skills to outwit society but later for the greater good.
Sara Kate
May 01, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-for-school
I did not like this book. The premise was promising and interesting BUT it was not handled well and could have been so much better. It was definitely a middle-grade novel, NOT a YA novel.

(Had to read this for school)
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
This was probably a YA book. It concerned a ex con who becomes a cat burglar using the sewers of London as his secret escape route. A book about a cat burglar who became a scat burglar.
Kailey (Luminous Libro)
Montmorency is a common thief, who devises a plan to use the new London sewer system to carry out plans for bigger and better burglaries, launching him into London's high society as a gentleman. He masquerades as his own servant, Scarper, to sneak out through the streets and alleyways to stage robberies and escape the police undetected. Then he cleans up and dresses for high society as the wealthy gentleman, Montmorency, leading a dual life of villainy and affluence. The plan works a little too ...more
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. This may be the strangest, most amoral, least trope-ridden (yet based on the prison to society imposter trope) YA novel I've ever read. I couldn't stop listening even though the plot never really went anywhere. The closest feel I have for this book is the superhero origin story, which is supposed to be meaningful and deep and provide shape to the character, but never does since its vignettes always seem to lack stakes (even when we know uncle Ben is going to die or Krypton will explod ...more
C.J. Milbrandt
A burglar falls through a glass roof into the gears of a machine and is horribly mangled, so he spends much of his prison life in the infirmary, undergoing a long series of surgeries, then in lecture halls, undergoing the humiliation of being on display. All the while, he plots. One day, he wants to be a fine gentleman. And to do this, he'll become an even better thief.

I was intrigued by the set-up in the summary. To achieve his goals, Montmorency creates two identities. He is both a gentleman
Lauren Stoolfire
I'm glad I just happened to stumble upon this YA historical mystery at a thrift store because that was a very promising series opener. I think I'll have to look for book two, Montmorency On The Rocks. ...more
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, audiobook
3.5 stars. I truly enjoyed this story. I'm actually thinking of reading the next in the series. Stephen Fry made the audio fabulous. ...more
May 13, 2015 rated it liked it
“Montmorency” by Eleanor Updale was a decent book. There were some parts that were pretty unbelievable and some that made a lot more sense, but they went well together.

Montmorency was a thief in London, and he was a pretty good one too. Up until he fell through a ceiling while being chased, he had never been arrested. During the fall, he had sustained injuries that could have ended his life, if not for a doctor who wanted to take on the project. His name was Robert Farcett, and he was Montmorenc
Nathan Togstad
Feb 18, 2016 rated it liked it

Personal response: Montmorency was a book of a man with nothing to lose. He was basically dead, then he was given a second chance. He made plans and was going to execute them when he left the prison. When he was released, he found that everything was harder in real life. This book shows that the reader can overcome anything if you set your mind to it. It also displays the fact that people can, and will change over time.

Plot: Montmorency was in a terrible accident. He fell through a roof runnin
Chris Bancells

Updale, E. (2004) Montmorency: thief, liar, gentleman? New York: Orchard Books.

Historical Fiction


Selection tools consulted: School Library Journal, WorldCat


Without question, this novel's titular character is a thief and a liar. The question which ultimately consumes him, however, is whether or not he can transform himself into a gentleman. Prior to the novel's opening, Montmorency is a talented and rising thief in Victorian London. When a job goes bad, and he falls thr
Sep 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
When I saw this book at a school book fair, the $2 sale sticker should have warned me. But whoever wrote the summary on the back of the book did an absolutely stellar job. Mystery, a gothic mood, a thief who assumes a new identity after a doctor sews his broken body back together - it seemed the perfect plot. If only the person who'd written the summary had written the rest of the book.

-Prisoners in a gritty Victorian chain gang literally take up the chorus of "4-2-3, wee-wee-dee." *facepalm* (p
lacy white
Aug 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 3-stars, u, 2019
Find this review and others like it at

tw: medical procedures done without consent, gruesome injuries

Alright. I’m just going to hop right in. This will be a short and sweet review simply because I don’t have a lot to say about this book. It wasn’t that it was a bad book but it was a short middle grade book and I often don’t have a lot to say when it comes to this genre. The plots can be simplistic and I don’t want to give too much away by talking about the
I highly enjoyed this book. It was a wonderful little surprise, and I'm still in that happy after-book feeling. I picked it up awhile ago on one of my book hunts, maybe Goodwill, maybe a library sale, don't remember. But after the disappointment of the last book I just read, I was wanting something that I could breeze through, that wouldn't be overly dramatic or complicated. This one caught my eye, and I started reading. Right away I was intrigued by the character, Montmorency. I grew to be very ...more
Jun 01, 2009 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People who are bored
Remember that rule? You know the one that told us not to judge a book by it's cover? Bear that in mind as you look at this. The cover of Monmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? makes it look great, maybe even dark and thrilling. Is it really? No.

When I first saw this book in the library of my school I picked it up quickly, hiding it from others. I called over my friend and we decided to read it for our book report. It looked good. The summary was fine. The cover was great. And what other choices do
Wendi Lau
Mar 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
Imagine if you were a thief who hasn't been caught once while stealing. And one day you just happen to fall and almost die. Would you quit steeling, or after you were done with your jail sentence get two identities? And continue steeling and living rich at the same time. Well this is what happens in the book Montmorency thief liar gentleman, by Eleanor Updale. In which the main character, which goes by many names and, which you will have to read it to find out why, lives a double life. One as Sc ...more
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a nice story! I know that "nice" isn't exactly effusive but "delightful" is a bit too much.

There was a bit of history in the painting of the setting that was interesting. But really the thing that bumped this book up in my esteem was the main character's story arc. He moved from thief to gentleman in a believable way. (The subtitle of the book is "thief liar gentleman," so that isn't a spoiler).

Montmorency didn't change all at once. His gradual change of morals and values happened at a pace
Sep 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is a great YA book about the seedy side of Victorian London. It's gritty, it's gross, it's got a lovely attention to period detail and accuracy, it's got engaging characters and a fun plot, and it's age appropriate, which I find fantastically refreshing. I mean, as an adult I'm pretty sure I know why the landlady and her daughter get dressed up at night and hang out around the opera house, but it doesn't have to be graphically explained for me to enjoy their occasional appearance in the sto ...more
Apr 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Of course, I always round up, so a 3.5 becomes a 4.

I guess the four depends on how you put the emphasis on "really." I REALLY liked it versus, yeah... I really liked it. ...

As you're reading this, I know you're thinking... "great another review that says nothing about the book, but only about the goodreads star rating system." Whatever, we've all been there.

Montmorency was a good quick book. Part Jekyll and Hyde, part Prince and the Pauper part a bunch of other stuff...

I could have some criticis
Nathan Procopio
Sep 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Overall this book is pretty good. It's fairy fast paced so it kept me interested and I didn't find myself skipping parts because they were boring. Full of action it is a good read for anyone who likes books set in the past but have lots going on and aren't historical but tell interesting stories. I liked that this book kept me interested and made me want to read the others in the series. The author does a good job of grabbing the reader and keeping them interested in what is happening. The chara ...more
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: action/historical fiction lovers
My mom picked up this book for me at a book fair a few years ago. I read it and really enjoyed it. I saw it on my bookshelf the other day and read it through again.

The characters in the book are really intriguing. I loved following the story of Montmorency, also known as Scarper, through his life of crime and his rise to the upper social class.

The plot is a thriller and very unpredictable. I highly recommend this book!
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What happened to this series? 2 19 Jul 28, 2013 01:56PM  

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Eleanor Updale studied history at St. Anne's College, Oxford, before becoming a producer of TV and radio current affairs programmes for the BBC. Her first children's novel, Montmorency, won the Silver Smarties Prize and the Medway Book Award. ...more

Other books in the series

Montmorency (5 books)
  • Montmorency On The Rocks: Doctor, Aristocrat, Murderer? (Montmorency, #2)
  • Montmorency and the Assassins: Master, Criminal, Spy? (Montmorency, #3)
  • Montmorency's Revenge (Montmorency, #4)
  • Montmorency Returns (Montmorency, #5)

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