The Montmaray Journals, Michelle Cooper
A Brief History of Montmaray (2009)
The FitzOsbornes in Exile (2011)
The FitzOsbornes at War (2012)
Scenario: HRH Sophia, Princess of Montmaray, lives on the small rocky island off the coast of Spain. It’s 1936 and the kingdom is failing, with just a few loyal subjects, an eccentric royal family, and a handful of secrets left on the island. Books 2 and 3 follow the family to London, through the Blitz and beyond.
- The first of these, A Brief History of Montmaray, reminded me very much of I Capture the Castle, which I somehow love without liking, and have read two or three times — there’s something about the setting that trumps plot.
- More Blitz! I just read The Secret Keeper, and it was interesting to come across more on this deeply surreal period in recent history.
- Just generally, these books are strong historically. The endnotes demonstrate just how thoroughly researched they are, and I can’t help thinking these would be a great way to teach the second world war.
- Sophie is a witty, sweet, bookish narrator. Rock those literary allusions, girl. And as the books bridge her life from sixteen to mid-twenties, we could even call the later books, just maybe, New Adult done right.
- There comes a moment in each of these books, usually the climax, where things just get wildly improbable. But I kept reading, and I’ll wager you will, too.
- There is a thread throughout all three of these, but particularly in At War, in which the characters (the sympathetic ones, anyway) unfailingly and exhausting exhibit these very correct 21st century perspectives on ethical issues. I much prefer the sort of shades of grey handling of these issues seen in Season 3 Downton Abbey — readers, even teen readers, can recognize that good people might feel differently about issues like homosexuality in the 1930s.
Bottom Line: I’ve been recommending these all over the place, especially for readers suffering Downton Abbey withdrawal, although I also think they would tie in wonderfully to a WWII curriculum. Such fun, such fun.