A Brief History of Montmaray

3.8
Sophie FitzOsborne lives in a rumbling castle in the iny island kingdom of Montmaray with her eccentric and impoverished royal family. When she receives a journal for her seventh birthday, Sophie decides to chronicle day-to-day life on the sland. But this is 1936, and the news that trickles in from the mainland reveals a world on the brink of war. The radicalis 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.
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Year of the Publication
Publication Date
Published October 13th 2009 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published June 2nd 2008
Original Title of the Book
A Brief History of Montmaray
Number of Pages
304

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gave it

( This analogy might not work well for someone who does n't find Tarantino to be pathetic, 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.

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 do n't know page numbers.

I admit to being worried that it was an average young adult ook and too I Capture the Castle-y to be anything special.

It 's also a touch too whimsical ( carrier pigeons!), in the ay 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).

Caleb tried to keep people happy by laughing and denying his own pain of loving someone he could n't have.

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'?

It amused me how Sophia peices together and expands her sympathies and horizons by reading fictio, by observing the people she cares about and trying to sort out what was significan about her days and her life.

Anna does n't know that the azis are killing Jews because not everybody back then knew what was going on.

Tess and her educated friends know everything.

They know too much by reading books and discussing things in safe rooms.

It must have been tempting for Cooper to have Sophia just ask Veronica the answer to everything.

Crazy 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 Jac so much.

( Not crying.) Lucy, 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 stupi.

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 fifth ook, anyway).

gave it

But Princess Sophia is the storyteller of the FitzOsborne clan, and in A Brief History of Montmaray, through her journal she tells the tal of the late year of 1936, as tensions simmer in a Europe on the brink of war.

A Brief History of Montmaray has everything one could want in a ovel- compelling narrative voice, convincing and plausible in epistolary style through the ey of our heroine Sophia, quirks, comedy, and just enough dramatic heft to keep you engaged throughout the memoi.

Now, this may come as a shock, but I am NOT a uge fan of the epistolary novel- this is because the style often feels forced or fake, and even some of the best tale that use the technique require severe suspension of disbelief.

, 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.

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.

gave it

It 's a cast of characte 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 daughte on the cusp of adulthood ( our arrator), who learns lessons about love and esponsibility and heritage and progress; the other iece, Henrietta-who-prefers-to-be-called-Henry and wishes she was a oy ( and acts like one); Simon, the stepso of the aunt who is so andsome and outgoing and with whom our narrator may possibly be in love -- or, at least, deep feeling.

I think this is what all good historical fiction is about -- giving you characters you really care about and enticing you to read THEIR stories, while along the way you might actually learn something -- or remember something that you forgot from much less interesting textbooks.

gave it

From the narrative it sounds like the Montmaray is so mall it would not show up on any map otherwise.

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 pidemics, I do not think emmigration patterns work like that, not for long-independent isolated places where families have lived for centuries.

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 elief in characters is damaged as well.Besides the worldbuilding looking very flimsy, the plot also seemed very flimsy on a few way. ( view spoiler) [ Vengeful nazis which seem to have gone to Montmaray on some totally vague mission, Isabella´s watery ghost ( WTF?), and Sophie out of the blue implying that Toby and Simon are gay?

( besides the obvious I Capture the Castle, this somewhow reminded me of Summers at Castle Auburn which is a totally different type of ook, but a good example of a YA heroine who charmed me).

gave it

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 handfu of the chapters/scenes.

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