Book Review: A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper

28 Dec

A Brief History of Montmaray is the diary of Sophie FitzOsborne, princess of Montmaray—a fictional island kingdom off the coast of England. Sophie details her life living in her crumbling castle with her siblings, cousin, crazy old uncle, and faithful dog. While Sophie dreams of the more exciting life of a London Season, she isn’t ready for the excitement that awaits her when the Nazis invade her home ahead of World War II. What follows is a mad dash for their country—and their lives.

From what I’ve seen, this book has received a lot of mixed reviews, and I have to say that I for one am 100% in love with the whole series.
I think part of the criticism of the Montmaray books is that they don’t have a huge amount of plot to them. Personally, I fall in love with books because of the characters. Books that have stunning, relatable characters don’t need much of a plot—I think it’s fun enough roaming around in the character’s head and living their lives, for which Montmaray’s diary style works perfectly. Sophie is an endearing but imperfect narrator who cares deeply for her family, and will make sure that you will, too.
As a fantasy connoisseur, it surprised me that I liked this decidedly historical fiction series. I think my attraction was due to a) my current obsession with Downton Abbey (if you like the show, you’ll love these books!) and b) the well-drawn setting, which turned the kingdom of Montmaray into a magical island plonked straight into the middle of one of my favorite periods of history.
That said, this book isn’t for everyone, which is why there are so many mixed reviews. It isn’t packed full of action—most of the real action is at the very end. Someone looking for an adventure won’t find it here. There also isn’t a lot of romance, save for a teenage crush—exactly what you might find in a sixteen year old’s diary.
I found that the series—The FitzOsbornes in Exile, followed by The FitzOsbornes at War—got even better as it went on, delving into London Society and the horrors of the Blitz. There were sad moments—heart-wrenching moments. But there were happy moments, too. If you enjoy history, Downton Abbey, or lovable characters, this is a series that you won’t want to miss.
**This book is often compared to I Capture the Castle, which I haven’t read, which is why there are no comparisons in this particular review.
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