A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper
Pretty basic, but sets the scene.
“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 trickles in from the mainland reveals a world on the brink of war. The politics of Europe seem far away from their remote island—until two German officers land a boat on Montmaray. And then suddenly politics become very personal indeed.
A Brief History of Montmaray is a heart-stopping tale of loyalty, love, and loss, and of fighting to hold on to home when the world is exploding all around you.
There are two sequels; on the plus side, they’re all out already!
I read this around the same time as my book club read I Capture the Castle, which I know is supposed to be a classic and all, but I think is a little dull. Because of the similarities between the books, I couldn’t help comparing the two, and I feel like Montmaray is Castle, but entertaining.
Genteel Poverty: the state whereby a higher-class, usually well-educated person, does not have much money, yet is still expected to conform to a somewhat higher standard of living. The FitzOsbornes feel less pressure to maintain appearances most of the time, because no one visits them, but they are still royalty, and are surrounded by family treasures which nonetheless do them not a bit of good in matters of income.
Mad King! I’m pretty sure Uncle John would put Lear’s walk in the rain to shame.
Montmaray is a small, isolated island, but the turmoil of interwar Europe still touches them.
Sophie is an engaging narrator who is unflinchingly honest (it’s her journal, after all!), and often adds a touch of humor to the FitzOsborne family trials and tribulations. Without long descriptive infodumps, I still have a crystal-clear picture of the island and life there in my head. I would love to see where the family goes from here, so I’ll read the rest of the trilogy.
Borrowed from library.