Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Falling For the The FitzOsbornes

I've just finished reading the final book in a fantastic trilogy  - The FitzOsbornes At War by Michelle Cooper.
And it's a find.
I've been finding a lot of finds recently. Such a thrill!
My interest was piqued when I read a review claiming the first book in the trilogy A Brief History of Montmoray was possibly better than I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith and, being a great fan of Dodie Smith (also the author of 101 Dalmations and The Twilight Barking) I had to find out for myself. And do you know, I think that reviewer might just be right. In fact (gulp) I think I liked the Montmoray Journals series more than  I Capture the Castle... which makes them classics.
A find.
The 'Montmoray Journal' series was based around a brilliant idea superbly executed.
Cooper's brilliant idea was inventing a small island nation (Montmoray) and plonking it in the Bay of Biscay (the bit of Sea on the Atlantic side that's cupped by France and Spain) The island is pretty much uninhabited except for the somewhat eccentric royal family who are, at the stories beginning (I still need to read the first book in the series,) teenagers. The series is set in the lead up to World War Two and during World War Two with the second and third book in the trilogy being based largely in England.
As rulers (in exile) of their own country the FitzOsbornes meet all sorts of interesting people and I was massively impressed by the historical accuracy and detail. The casual mention of Rosalind Christie, Agatha Christie's daughter, as a debutante was a nice touch. The description of the Kennedy family (of J.F.K fame) when Senior Kennedy was an ambassador in the UK was... thought provoking. The loopy Mitford clan came out as loopy as I always thought them. And very interesting stuff about Edward and Wallis Simpson...)
And then... even though I thought the series historically superb, the details never got in the way of the story.  Hitler's rise to power and the political build up was brilliantly depicted in The FitzOsbornes in Exile while The FitzOsbornes at War was a simply stunning (in a heartrending way) depiction of countries at war and how everyones lives were shattered... and then rebuilt. The heroine (who is writing her journal) is strong and sweet and the family is (despite their Montmoraian heritage) very quirkily English. In a good way. Already I'm looking forward to re-reading. A find, a find, a good find!

I started reading The Fitzosbornes in Exile yesterday, finished it by eleven last night and immediately downloaded The FitzOsbornes at War. Well, I had to. (Spoiler Alert, sort of) The FitzOsbrones in Exile ends with World War Two breaking out, so I had to see that everyone survived the war and found happy ever afters...
I've just finished The FitzOsbornes at War which was perfect. By which I mean I can't think how it could have been better. (Except, well, someone died who clearly should not have. But..) It was tragic and terrible and uplifting and romantic and sweet and completely heartbreaking and I finished it in tears - but they were good tears. Truly! 


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