A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper (2009)

4th October 1936

I did have several thoughts last night after I put my books away, but they were pathetic rather than profound. They were, I must admit, mostly about Simon Chester, Rebecca’s son (p 15).

briefhistoryThis is the first book in The Montmaray Journals series, chronicling the royal family of the small, fictitious island country of Montmaray, located just northeast of the Bay of Buscay.

Sophie begins her journal on her sixteenth birthday. She lives with her uncle, the mad King John, her cousin, the intellectual Veronica, and her sister (who would rather be a boy) Henry. Toby, her charming elder brother is in England at school. Rebecca, the housekeeper, does little house work, spending most of her time caring for the King. But Rebecca’s son, Simon, is the object of Sophie’s ardor.

Few villagers live on the island but when two German’s arrive, their small island life hangs in the balance between the Facists and the Communists.

This book begins slowly, building late toward a faster paced climax/denouemont. It is a book with a lot of atmostphere, gothic overtones, and foundation in history. For me, it slumped in sections and took too long to plod through. I expected something to happen and so little did, until everything came to a head in at the conclusion.

There is a possible incestuous/homosexual relationship alluded to in very loose terms but not explored. Otherwise, it’s a pretty gentle read for the 6th through 8th grade kids. It is on the 2012 Garden State Teen Book Award ballot.

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