Monday, March 15, 2010

A Brief History of Montmaray

Cooper, Michelle. 2009. A BRIEF HISTORY OF MONTMARAY. New York: Knopf. ISBN 9780375858642. [Suggested Grade Levels 7- 12]


It is 1936 and Europe is on the brink of war. Sophie FitzOsburn lives in a crumbling castle on the tiny island kingdom of Montmaray, a kingdom that seems isolated from the problems of the world. Also on the island are Sophie’s younger sister “Henry,” a tomboy who does not like her lessons and prefers to run around with Jimmy, the only other child on the island; her brilliant, beautiful cousin Veronica, and her uncle, “the completely mad King John.” Her brother Toby is away at school. The only other island inhabitants are Rebecca, who cooks for the family and cares for the king, and Jimmy’s mother and grandmother.

Despite news from the mainland, gleaned from letters from Toby and Aunt Charlotte, the occasional newspaper delivered by supply ships, and reports from the family retainer—Simon, Rebecca’s son, Montmaray remains safe and mostly isolated. Sophie’s main worries are whether or not the ships will stop by with food and other supplies and whether she should accept Aunt Charlotte’s offer for a debutante season in London. Then, two German soldiers land their boat on the island and life changes drastically.

A marvelous blend of history and imagination, the author presents an accurate picture of European politics in the years between the two world wars. While Montmaray never existed, the kingdom seems perfectly plausible in this blend of historical fiction, romance, and adventure.


This book is perfect for history teachers to use when discussing the effect of WWI on Europe and the emerging causes of WWII.


Other war-related books:

Couloumbis, Audrey. WARGAMES. ISBN 9780375856280

Ibbotson, Eva. THE MORNING GIFT. ISBN 9780142409114

Westerfeld, Scott. LEVIATHAN. ISBN 9781416971733

By Janet Hilbun

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