Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Brief History of Montmaray

A Brief History of Montmaray

Michelle Cooper
Fiction  Series
For ages 14 and up
Random House, 2009   ISBN: 978-0375858642

Sophie lives on the island of Montmaray, which lies in the Bay of Biscay. It is a small bleak island, and since the Great War, most of the islanders have left, looking for better opportunities elsewhere. Now the only people who live there full time are Sophie, her cousin Veronica, her little sister Henry, Veronica’s father, their housekeeper Rebecca, and three villagers. Veronica’s father is the king of the tiny kingdom, and he is quite mad, which means that Veronica is the one left with the job of trying to make ends meet, taking care of the crumbling royal castle, and watching over her younger cousins.

For her sixteenth birthday, Sophie is given a journal, and in it she writes about her life, and her hopes and dreams. Sophie has never been to school, she has not had many friends, and she knows very little about the world beyond the island. She does try to follow what is going on in Spain, and she listens to the discussions Veronica has with Rebecca’s son Simon when he comes home to visit. Veronica is very concerned about the Nazis, though Sophie thinks that her cousin’s attitude is a little extreme.

Then, quite out of the blue, a small group of Nazis arrives on the island. They claim to be there looking for something of historical significance, but Veronica is very suspicious of them. She refuses to grant them access to the castle library, and insists that Sophie and Henry keep their distance from the Germans. Then, one night, the Germans sneak into the castle, and Sophie’s life on her beloved island is turned upside down.

In this unique book, readers will get to experience life through the eyes of a teenage girl who is living in Europe in 1936. Sophie and her family members not only have to worry about how they are going to manage - they are barely able to keep their heads above water financially speaking - but how they are going to protect their royal heritage in a rapidly changing world.

Full of interesting historical details, unexpected adventures, and colorful characters, this is an exceptional book that will keep readers captivated for hours.