About Me

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Victoria, Australia
I am an author of Young Adult Fiction books. I worked as a teacher in the Pacific Islands for seven years. Whilst in the Solomon Islands I taught PSSC English before the ethnic tension in 2000 forced a change of plans. I love Pacific literature, art and music. You can find me on Facebook at Beth Montgomery Author.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper

A Brief history of Montmaray (Random House, 2008)
 When I first picked up this novel I knew nothing more than it was a YAF book that had sold well recently. I was delighted to find it was actually about an island, a fictitious one in the Bay of Biscay, off the coast of Spain. The story is set in 1936-37. Snippets of conversation refer to the Spanish Civil War and the rise of both facism and communisim throughout Europe.
   The story is about a royal family, very minor and now almost destitute, who cling to their island home despite the fact most of their subjects have settled in England. Sophie FitzOsborne is the central character and she writes her diary with wit and attention to detail. Her cousin Veronica is a formidable young woman who spends most of her time reading through history books; that's where the title comes from.
   The setting is bleak and isolated but the FitzOsborne girls love their island home and don't want to leave it. When circumstances force them to rethink their plans the story evolves into a gripping battle to survive the elements and the enemy.
   Although this is a historical novel I think the author has struck a good balance between creating an authentic past and maintaining a modern pace. I thoroughly enjoyed this book but with so much emphasis on women and girls, young men might not enjoy it so much. A Brief History of Montmaray won the 2009 Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature.

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