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The FitzOsbornes in Exile

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Overview

Michelle Cooper combines the drama of pre-War Europe with the romance of debutante balls and gives us another compelling historical page turner.

Sophia FitzOsborne and the royal family of Montmaray escaped their remote island home when the Germans attacked, and now find themselves in the lap of luxury. Sophie's journal fills us in on the social whirl of London's 1937 season, but even a princess in lovely new gowns finds it hard to fit in. Is ...

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The FitzOsbornes in Exile

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Overview

Michelle Cooper combines the drama of pre-War Europe with the romance of debutante balls and gives us another compelling historical page turner.

Sophia FitzOsborne and the royal family of Montmaray escaped their remote island home when the Germans attacked, and now find themselves in the lap of luxury. Sophie's journal fills us in on the social whirl of London's 1937 season, but even a princess in lovely new gowns finds it hard to fit in. Is there no other debutante who reads?!

And while the balls and house parties go on, newspaper headlines scream of war in Spain and threats from Germany. No one wants a second world war. Especially not the Montmaravians—with all Europe under attack, who will care about the fate of their tiny island kingdom?

Will the FitzOsbornes ever be able to go home again? Could Montmaray be lost forever?

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2011:
"Multilayered and engrossing, Cooper’s tale alternates between frothy fun and heartbreaking seriousness with utter mastery."

From the Hardcover edition.

VOYA - Madeline Miles
This book is Sophie's private journal from the late 1930s and, being the second book in a proposed trilogy, the first couple entries are hard to read if you did not read the first book. It is intriguing, though, and everything you missed gets explained. Cooper uses advanced vocabulary in the book, but with context clues it is easy to figure out what she means. This book will make you laugh and cry, and you will not want to put it down. Reviewer: Madeline Miles, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Debbie Wenk
This book—told in Sophie's diary entries—continues the story of the remaining members of the royal FitzOsborne family after their tiny island nation, Montmaray, is overrun by Nazis in the late 1930s. The family has taken refuge in England at the home of the Princess Royal, Charlotte. She is aunt to the teen royals: Veronica and her cousins, Toby (the new king), Sophie, and Henrietta. The young people retain fierce loyalty to Montmaray whereas Charlotte has become thoroughly English. Their focus is on reclaiming their island kingdom and opposing the rising tide of Fascism, while Charlotte is obsessed with marrying off her eligible nieces to proper, titled Englishmen. There is something for everyone in this second installment of The Montmaray Journals. Seventeen-year-old Sophie narrates this story of high society courtship, family secrets, infidelity, looming war, and a Nazi thug. Sophie has matured since the previous book and her journal entries reflect a young woman caught between the excitement of being a debutante and the longing for her home. She is the most well-developed character and readers will be drawn to her as she struggles with her homesickness for Montmaray and her confusion over her feelings for Simon—the son of the late king's housekeeper and now Charlotte's assistant. The many threads of the story weave together nicely and the heavy political drama is balanced by the more lighthearted high society segments. This is a thoroughly engrossing read. Reviewer: Debbie Wenk
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Sophie Fitzosborne and the rest of her small royal family return in Michelle Cooper's sequel (2011) to A Brief History of Montmaray (2009, both Knopf). The story picks up after Montmaray was attacked by the Nazis and Sophie, her brother Toby, her sister Henrietta, and her cousin Veronica flee the tiny island kingdom to the safety of England and their wealthy Aunt Charlotte. At first Sophie revels in the luxury of England with beautiful clothes, servants, and balls. Toby, hating school, is sent down from Oxford. Henrietta visits Buckingham Palace and manages to make herself persona non grata, and Veronica offers up Aunt Charlotte's home to children fleeing the Spanish Civil War. Through it all, 16-year-old Sophie records family events both large and small, but fails to comprehend that she is the glue that keeps them all together. The political situation of 1937 soon impacts the family. The teens decide to petition the League of Nations for censure of the Nazi take-over of Montmaray and find themselves trying to outwit Nazi enemies who want the kingdom for strategic reasons. Emma Bering's elegant English accent infuses the quirky family with warmth and humor. Being chased by Nazis adds palpable tension to the story and the ending is satisfying. Libraries with the first audiobook will want to add this fine sequel to their collection.—Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK
Kirkus Reviews
Having narrowly escaped the Nazi bombing of their miniscule island kingdom, the young impoverished royal family of Montmaray is living in exile in England with their very wealthy aunt (A Brief History of Montmaray, 2008). Their lives have changed dramatically, as they are thrown unprepared into the world of upper-class society. But they also become embroiled in all the confusion of the perilous 1930s, speaking out against Fascism and appeasement and aiding children escaping from the horrors of the Spanish Civil War, all the while attempting to get help in wresting their home back from the Germans. Princess Sophie's voice is true and clear in her journal, with syntax and tone spot on, as she writes with compassion of the upheaval, changing family dynamics and her own emotional growth. The novel is, in Sophie's words, a combination of the "Awful Bits" and "things that successfully distract one from the Awful Bits" in a world that "has been wound up as far as it could go." The lively, charming characters meet challenges with pluck and ingenuity as well as a great deal of humor. Will modern readers get all the references to the real events and people? Perhaps not, but it won't matter, because the information is woven seamlessly into the plot. Multilayered and engrossing, Cooper's tale alternates between frothy fun and heartbreaking seriousness with utter mastery. (author's note) (Historical fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375851551
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/13/2012
  • Series: Montmaray Journals Series
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 386,327
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Michelle Cooper has held a variety of jobs including selling shoes and working at a blood bank. But she now works as a speech pathologist. She specializes in learning disabilities and reluctant readers, so she's passionate about getting children and teenagers interested in books. You can learn more about Michelle and her books at MichelleCooper-Writer.com.
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Read an Excerpt

16th January 1937

I write this sitting at an exquisite little Louis the Fifteenth secretaire in the White Drawing Room, using a gold fountain pen borrowed from the King of Montmaray and a bottle of ink provided by one of the footmen. Fortunately, the paper is just a sixpenny exercise book that I bought in the village this morning--otherwise I'd be too intimidated to write a word.

It's interesting, though, how quickly one becomes accustomed to small luxuries--having an invisible maid whisk away one's clothes in the night and return them freshly laundered and mended the next morning, for instance. Of course, if she hadn't, I wouldn't have had a stitch to wear today, other than the flannel pajamas my brother, Toby, lent me. But Aunt Charlotte did order us some things from London, and they're supposed to be delivered soon. Is it too dreadful of me to rejoice in the prospect of brand-new clothes--for once not handed down by older relatives? When the reason I no longer have any possessions is so tragic? Probably. But as I can't do anything about the tragedy, I will continue to be quietly thrilled about the clothes.

Anyway. Here I sit, scribbling away in my journal on this first full day of my new life (writing in Kernetin, of course, our secret code, in case any grown-ups get hold of my book). I awoke at dawn, jolted out of a nightmare--or perhaps just a memory--in which I was running for my life as the world collapsed around me. Staring up at the canopied bed and silk-paneled walls, it took me a moment to work out where I was. But then I remembered. Aunt Charlotte's house! Milford Park! England! I scrambled out of bed and rushed over to the window, but all I could see was a dense white mist, as though the house were swaddled in cotton wool each night and the servants hadn't got round to unwrapping it yet. This didn't help at all with the uneasy, dislocated feeling left over from my nightmare. I then decided to go and see Veronica--merely to check that she was all right, of course.

Her room, two doors down from mine, is more austere, decorated with bleak-looking landscapes and a cheerless charcoal study of Nelson's final moments at the Battle of Trafalgar. There is a vast marble fireplace, but all it contained early this morning was a mound of ashes. I was shivering in the doorway, peering at Veronica's half-drawn bed hangings, and wondering whether I'd wake her if I moved any closer, when a sepulchral voice announced,

"She's not dead. She's still breathing."

I whirled about, hand at my throat.

"Henry!" I gasped. "Don't creep up on me like that!"

My little sister stood by my elbow, looking deceptively demure in a cardigan and pleated skirt. "I checked," Henry went on in her inexorable way. "Her chest was going up and down."

"Well, of course Veronica's not dead," I snapped, but I felt ashamed of myself at once. Poor Henry, stuck here for the past few days not knowing what had happened to us, the grown-ups rushing about in a panic and no one explaining anything to her. And then our dramatic arrival yesterday, Veronica being half carried out of the motorcar, her arm wrapped in bloodstained bandages. No wonder Henry was feeling anxious. "Now don't disturb her," I whispered, in what I hoped was a soothing manner. "Come back to my room and let me get dressed, then we can . . ."

But I wasn't sure what was expected of us. Were we supposed to gather in that immense dining room downstairs, or wait for breakfast trays to be sent up, or what? I had a hasty wash in the pink-and-white bathroom between my room and Veronica's (admiring yet again the fluffiness of the towels and the frothiness of the soap), then pulled on my old skirt and jersey. Meanwhile, Henry occupied herself opening and closing every drawer in my room, running her fingers over the wall panels, and fiddling with the window latch.

"Your room's bigger than mine," she declared as I searched in vain for a hairbrush. "And Veronica's is bigger than yours. But Toby's is absolutely enormous! It's got three windows and its own bathroom and a dressing room!"

"Well, he does have the highest rank of all of us," I pointed out, repressing a sigh. I could already tell that life here was going to be far more formal than at Montmaray. I hoped there wouldn't be too many mysterious forks and spoons at breakfast, before I'd had a chance to revise my dining etiquette. "I don't suppose you know where everyone has breakfast?" I asked, grimacing at my bird's nest hair in the looking glass.

"In the breakfast room, of course," said Henry. "At eight o'clock. But hurry up, I've got something to show you first." Then she bounded out of the room and down the corridor.

As my hair was a lost cause, and I was keen to start learning my way around the house, I hurried after her, towards the wide gallery that surrounded the Grand Staircase. There were a lot of heavily varnished gold-framed portraits here, as well as glass cabinets and statues on pedestals and Chinese vases large enough for a person to hide inside, all of which gleamed richly in the dim light. Past the staircase, Henry explained, were Toby's rooms and Aunt Charlotte's suite. Upstairs, apparently, were still more bedrooms, and above that were the servants' quarters.

But we went downstairs, leaving a trail of shoe-shaped indentations in the thick red carpet. I wouldn't have been at all surprised to glance over my shoulder and find a silent housemaid following us with a carpet sweeper. Everything was immaculate, and the scent of potpourri and lemon furniture polish hung heavily in the air. At the bottom of the staircase was about an acre of marble floor, with fluted columns running along either side, and massive brass doors leading off the hall to a myriad of drawing rooms. But Henry tugged me into an oak-paneled corridor behind the staircase. We plunged down a narrow flight of steps and into a room that made me feel instantly at home. There were macintoshes and straw hats in various states of disrepair dangling from pegs near the door, stacks of yellow newspaper tied up with string, walking sticks and wicker baskets and old brooms, and, best of all, a pile of blankets upon which lay a big black dog. He jumped up when we came in and flung himself at Henry.

"Darling Carlos!" said Henry, hugging him. "Did you miss me? Mean Aunt Charlotte, making you sleep down here! Never mind, I'll sneak you up to my room tonight."

But I didn't think our dog had minded the arrangements too much. He'd been curled up next to the boiler, and someone had already served him a hearty breakfast, judging by the bowl encrusted with gravy and the enormous bone he'd been gnawing. He demanded a pat from me, then went over to stick his nose inside the Wellington boots Henry was trying to tug on. I'd thought that Carlos was the thing Henry had wanted me to see, but apparently "it" was "just down the drive."

The mist had lifted, I noticed, replaced with a gentle rain that fell without sound upon the gravel path. However, this obligingly stopped before we'd walked ten yards.

"Even the weather's polite here," said Henry, giving the sky a contemptuous glance.

I gathered Aunt Charlotte had already Had Words with Henry about her manners.

"At Montmaray, it'd be bucketing down," Henry went on wistfully, "and there'd be a howling gale. Probably a thunderstorm as well."

"They'll have thunderstorms here, too," I assured her. "You've only been here five days."

"Is that all?" she exclaimed. "It feels like weeks and weeks! Gosh, I hope Veronica gets better soon so we can all go home."

I stopped so abruptly that Carlos ran into the back of my legs. "Oh, Henry," I said.

"What?" she said, turning.

"We . . . we can't go home."

From the Hardcover edition.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2012

    Awesome

    Love the whole series. Highly reccommended!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2012

    Omg 100000293894457909532267994323 stars!!!!!!!

    I luv this book it is my fave book eva whoever made comment #1 u r like my bff

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  • Posted August 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jaglvr for TeensReadToo

    THE FITZOSBORNES IN EXILE is the second book in THE MONTMARAY JOURNALS. This book picks up where A BRIEF HISTORY OF MONTMARAY left the reader. The royal FitzOsborne children have been exiled to England to live with their Aunt Charlotte, a forty-ish society widow. Sophie FitzOsborne keeps a journal that relates the adventures of Veronica, Toby, Henry, and Simon in their new home. While having to adjust to life in British society, the FitzOsbornes strategize how to reclaim their island home. The Germans have taken over Montmaray, and have been seen using the island as a base to plan their attacks at the beginning of World War II. THE FITZOSBORNES IN EXILE takes place during the time span of January 1937 through August 1939. The author uses the backdrop of the Nazis and the impending war as the setting for the story. Neither Sophie nor Veronica has any desire to become a debutante and seek a husband as her Aunt wishes. During their social events, however, the two do discover some contacts that guide them in their quest to seek justice for Montmaray. This is a lengthy novel, but quite engrossing with the historical content. The Author's Note at the end gives illuminating insight as to how the history incorporated into the story. Though a fictionalized novel, many of the events and people mentioned are based on historical fact. The reader does not have to have read A BRIEF HISTORY OF MONTMARAY to enjoy this follow-up novel. There are many references to events from the first novel that allows the reader to keep up with the action in the story. And rest assured, there is plenty of action in this one. The last 50 pages alone will leave one on the edge of their seat.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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