A Brief History of Montmaray

The Montmaray Journals: Book One

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper A Brief History of Montmaray US cover

"I need to write down what has just happened. I need to set down the truth. If I write lies or if I write nothing at all, this journal is worthless. I must do this, in case anything happens.

All right. This is what happened tonight, every single terrible thing that I can remember..."

Sophie FitzOsborne lives in a crumbling castle in the tiny island kingdom of Montmaray, along with her tomboy younger sister Henry, her beautiful, intellectual cousin Veronica, and Veronica's father, the completely mad King John.
When Sophie receives a leather-bound journal for her sixteenth birthday, she decides to write about her day-to-day life on the island. But it is 1936 and the world is in turmoil. Does the arrival of two strangers threaten everything that Sophie holds dear?
From Sophie's charming and lively observations to a nailbiting, unputdownable ending, this is a book to be treasured.

★ Awarded the 2009 Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature (NSW Premier's Literary Awards)
★ Shortlisted for the 2008 Gold Inky Teenage Choice Award
★ Recommended Book in the 2009 Parents' Choice Book Award
★ Listed in the American Library Association's 2010 Best Books for Young Adults

Read an excerpt from the novel
Read about the process of researching and planning the novel
Read historical background information
Look at the author's sketches and maps of Montmaray
Download teaching resources

Available in hardcover, paperback, ebook and audiobook editions

Reviews of A Brief History of Montmaray

★ "A smart and stirring choice to usher fans of the Brontës into the twentieth century."

Ian Chipman, starred review in Booklist

"Bittersweet and delectable, this book deserves to be an instant classic. Sophie is one of the most charming narrators since I Capture The Castle."

Kate Forsyth, Australian author

"Michelle Cooper's A Brief History of Montmaray breathes new life into the dark and stormy romantic suspense novels that made earlier generations ardent fans of the Brontës, Daphne du Maurier, and Victoria Holt. Teens and 'tweens will be tearing through the novel's second half by the night light."

Lauren Nemroff, Amazon.com Review: Best of the Month, October 2009

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper "Thanks to the romantic isolation of the setting and the narration's poetic but lucid prose, the story of Montmaray's last royal generation feels both immediate and timeless."

Junior Library Guild Selection

"Cooper's taut pacing and strong characters make this a powerful historical novel."

Publishers Weekly - Children's Book Reviews

"Romance, adventure, a touch of the supernatural and a winning heroine who will touch the heart. Compelling."

Kirkus Reviews

"A Brief History of Montmaray is one of the most enchanting novels I have read all year. Blending taut writing and sharp characterizations with historical fact and fiction, this slim novel is impossible to resist."

Thea James, San Francisco Book Review

"Sophie's voice is a winning mixture of briskness, acerbity, and romantic hopes. With entertaining flair, it mixes humor, romance, and a young girl's coming of age with an amusingly gruesome historical adventure story."

The Horn Book Magazine

"It's an absolute joy to find a smart, engaging story like Michelle Cooper's A Brief History of Montmaray. Montmaray brings together a strong heroine with distinctive, original supporting characters, a bit of history, a lot of wit, a touch of the Gothic and an exciting climax, for a book that's hard to put down."

Sarah Bryan Miller, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Once in a while, a special book will cross our paths . . . Cooper has created one of the most interesting and likeable characters I have come across in a long time . . . a pleasing narrative that readers will enthusiastically connect with . . . a joyful reading experience."

Soo Lee Tan, Viewpoint

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper

"Michelle Cooper draws on history, literature, politics, religion and mythology, as well as the smaller moments of a life, and delivers a story that has more facets than a well-cut diamond. Adventure, intrigue, romance, the supernatural - it's all here, bound together by a ripping plot."

Frances Atkinson, The Sunday Age

"A thundering good yarn, set against a background of the Spanish Civil War and the rise of Nazi Germany . . . This reader hopes there is a sequel. Recommended."

Helen Purdie, Magpies

"This historical adventure story is bound to captivate and excite teens with its amazing, unexpected twists. Readers will adore Sophie, who is both wise and brave, and will be left wondering what is next for this courageous young heroine."

The Crimson Review of Children's and YA Literature

"The intelligent prose reads like a modern Brontë novel mixed with the Famous Five adventures. The unique characters are well placed within the fast-paced background of historical happenings and real people."

Anastasia Gonis, Good Reading

"A Brief History is reminiscent of Jane Austen novels and possesses the same whimsical romanticism, innocence and gentle wit in its heroine. At the same time, it has a faster pace and greater level of intrigue to suit readers today . . . Recommended."

Aleesah Darlison, Buzz Words Magazine

"An endearing narrator and a nail-biting adventure will leave readers on tenterhooks for the sequel that is scheduled to follow."

Lucy Clark, The Sunday Telegraph

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper

"The unusual blend of history and the romantic setting, combined with the coming of age of Sophie, will be sure to appeal to girls who want an imaginative and thoughtful read."

Pat Pledger, Read Plus Book Reviews

Praise for the Australian audiobook: "Melissa Chambers's reading brings the story and characters to life, and has imbued Sophie with a richness that captures the essence of Cooper's character. This is an enjoyable, gripping and fascinating rendering that will delight all readers and leave them wanting to hear more."

Bronwyn Macdonald, Viewpoint

Praise for the North American audiobook: "Emma Bering believably voices Sophia's diary as she deals with her first crush, attempts to understand the political upheaval in Europe, completes her daily chores, and experiences an eerie recurring dream. She gives each character his or her own intonations and subtleties, but is at her best with Sophie, a teen whom listeners will relate to as her life quickly goes from monotonous to tumultuous."

Amanda Raklovits, School Library Journal

"This terrific novel, reminiscent of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle and suited for ages 12 and up, purports to be the journal of Princess Sophie FitzOsborne, an orphan just turned 16 in 1936 . . . In a fine performance, narrator Emma Bering deftly distinguishes between the many characters with variations of tone and accent (though sparing us cartoonish Germans)."

Katherine Powers, Washington Post