A Brief History of Montmaray

Michelle Cooper, Author . Knopf $16.99 (296p) ISBN 978-0-375-85864-2

A highly atmospheric setting on the invented European island of Montmaray and a memorably eccentric cast prove a standout backdrop for this adventure set in 1936. In personable, smart diary entries, 16-year-old Sophie FitzOsborne unveils her life of aristocratic poverty in a crumbling fortified castle with sharks below the rickety drawbridge, living with her unbalanced uncle the king, tomboy sister Henry, bluestocking cousin Veronica and eerily loyal housekeeper (“It's not my fault I'm a princess [albeit one from an impoverished and inconsequential island kingdom that is miles from anywhere],” Sophie moans). Cooper ably interweaves this fictional dynasty with historical fact, sketching details about the Spanish Civil War and growing Nazi power, the handful of villagers left on the island (“there are now as many Royal Highnesses on the island as there are subjects”), visits from friends from England and Sophie's longed-for debut. When German soldiers arrive, events take a perilous turn, and the revelation of long-hidden family secrets adds additional gothic undertones. Cooper's taut pacing and strong characters make this a powerful historical novel. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/19/2009
Release date: 10/01/2009
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 296 pages - 978-0-375-85154-4
Library Binding - 296 pages - 978-0-375-95864-9
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-70781-9
Compact Disc - 978-0-307-70778-9
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-375-89359-9
Paperback - 286 pages - 978-1-74166-322-8
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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