I am missing the Downton…BIG TIME. Aaah the intrigue, the gossip, the manners, the clothes, the biting sarcasm from delightful Maggie Smith. I love it! If you haven’t watched Downton Abbey, you are sincerely missing out. I know, I know, it sounds all boring and lame and “geez Trina it’s on PBS so that totally means its education or something” but truly it is such a GOOD show. Have I convinced you yet?
What does this have to do with “A Brief History of Montmaray” you may ask? Well this awesome YA trilogy (not dystopian though 😉 ) completely reminds me of it. No, it doesn’t share the same setting or same type of characters but it just has the same delicious feel. Let me share :
Title : A Brief History of Montmaray (Bk 1 in Montmaray Journals series)
Author : Michelle Cooper
Three Words : epistolary, royal wartime, YA
Red Flags: Some violence
So Sophie FitzOsborne (I know – the name alone got me hooked) is a shy, smart sixteen year old living in a decrepit castle on the tiny island nation of Montmaray. (And before you start to feel like “God I must be so stupid at geography because I have never heard of this place” it is fictional) She receives a journal for her birthday and decides to chronicle her everyday life with the remains of her eccentric royal family. We’ve got the insane (literally) king John who mostly stays in his bedroom except occassionally to throw things at people, his daughter Veronica (Sophie’s cousin who is keeping the family afloat), the housekeeper (who only has eyes for John), Toby (Sophie’s older brother – next in line to the throne, charming with zero responsibility but a wonderful heart) and Henry (Sophie’s little sister – who is opposed to dresses, baths or anything girly) and of course, the housekeeper’s son (whom Sophie has a HUGE crush on but who may or may not be messing around elsewhere ). The year is 1936 so including the day to day craziness of their world, stuff is going down in Europe with that Hitler character. We get to meet her family and suffer along with them while they are struggling to make ends meet and keep everything together but they are still delightfully nice and cheery people. THEN a boat lands on their shores and it is carrying some Germans and things really go to hell then.
I loved this book!! So many things make it awesome but I’ll just tell you a few. One, I could not be sicker of the heroine of every book being all I’m ugly but really she is a stunning beauty with fierce intelligence, a kind heart etc…. People are not really that amazing! Sophie is attractive, but not a great beauty. She is intelligent but prone to overwhelming shyness. She has lots of great qualities but not ALL of them. Two, I love all the little details about Montmaray. I’m a big fan of epistolary novels and I love learning about Sophie’s home and family from her. She brings it to life so that you can picture the crumbling castle, the craggy island and the family she fiercely loves. Three, the war is portrayed in a realistic manner that a teenager would deal with it i.e. some interest, some worry but not always understanding everything that is going on. Also, I love the little asides about Hitler ” Surely Mr. Hitler would not invade other countries…” that sort of thing. Sure, sometimes everybody around her is a little too awesome and nice. And sometimes things work out a little too good but it’s a fictional book and sometimes I want things to go right! In the end, I give this book nine shoes (damn near perfect) – this is my super favorite pair of pink wedges with the orange stripe . Go read this book!
The second book is just as good so if you like this one keep going. The newest book is coming out any day so I am anxiously awaiting it. Anybody else read this series? What did you think?