Monday, March 4, 2013

[Review] The FitzOsbornes in Exile by Michelle Cooper

(#2, The Montmaray Journals)
A Brief History of Montmaray The FitzOsbornes in Exile | The FitzOsbornes at War


Author:
Michelle Cooper
Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 02/08/2012
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 450
Source: For review (thanks Michelle!)


Violence Sexual ContentProfanity

My Rating: 
My thoughts

Note: This is the second book in the trilogy. I would definitely recommend you read the first book before you read this review.


The FitzOsbornes in Exile is an inspired follow-up to A Brief History of Montmaray. The FitzOsbornes now have to deal with court life in England--especially the girls, Sophie and Veronica, as they make their debut into Society--all the while planning to take back their home and establish their nation in their royal status. Cooper's characters develop realistically and with great charm, in all their quirks. The plot thickens in all its historically detailed glory, paving the way for an intense and dramatic conclusion to the trilogy.



I just love this book, and I feel sorry for myself because I have left this review sitting for too long and now have to bumble my way through it. So bear with me, guys.
It's a strange comfort, re-visiting characters you'd grown to love, and learning that they've changed--though admittedly, for the better. In this case I'm referring to Sophie. She has matured a great amount since the series of unfortunate events at Montmaray. They are now in England and are to adapt to a new life of luxury and glamour. Sophie, unsurprisingly, does much better at establishing herself in Society than the academic and outspoken Veronica. The gang deal with the frivolity that is court life, when at the back of their minds they are still thinking about the approaching war. They plan to reach out to the International League (?), in hopes that they will assist in driving the Germans out of their land.

Sophie is just the best scribe/narrator/spectator. She has matured greatly since she and her family lived in Montmaray, which is evident in her behaviour near the end of this book. She obviously loves her food. Seriously, reading this (and A Brief History of Montmaray) had me salivating. Some of the food just sounds so delectable. I don't mind at all, reading about delicious food. But anyway, she retells everything that happens in her life through the eyes of a young lady on the cusp of womanhood. The writing is accessible and has a lot of heart. Or maybe I just love epistolary novels, especially one with such an established voice.

The romance aspects in their lives is very subtle. Toby and Simon deal with their futures. Cooper explores the difficult situation they are in; despite their feelings for one another, they are each expected by society to court a young woman of acceptable social standing. Sophie is still sifting through her feelings for Simon, and there may be someone to help her with that. Veronica's intellectual pen-pal may be interested in more than just discussion of political affairs . . . I enjoyed every arc concerning these characters. I especially enjoyed the development of Veronica's "relationship".

I will always love these characters. I haven't mentioned Henry yet, so here we go. I remember in particular one scene where she makes a really brash comment (added in the quotes section). She's gone through multiple governesses. She hates riding side-saddle. She loves playing with the dog. All of which are "unbecoming". But why should she care? I think she's great. All of these characters defy against the norm of society in their own ways; Henry is definitely the most outward.

Among the seriousness of their situation, there is a lot of fun and hilarity that takes place. Henry! Veronica and Simon's bickering. Simon and Sophie against the train wall. When Sophie is teased about her supposed love call with Rupert. When they mess with Aunt Charlotte, which they did more than a few times. I caught myself giggling many times throughout!

 I don't think Cooper's series is for everyone. Many people are put off by historical fiction (though I would love it if more people gave the genre a try!), and as far as YA historical fiction goes, this one is challenging at times. Michelle Cooper is really into her research, and it shows. Every minute detail has obviously been considered thoughtfully before it made it to print. Especially in regards to the political side of things, I can't say I understood every little thing that was discussed. But I just love that there are YA historical authors who take the time and really care about historical accuracy in their fictional works.

By the end of The Fitzosbornes in Exile, things are uneasy. We know that big things are coming. I cannot wait to get around to reading the last book, The FitzsOsbornes at War. I hope my expectations are met and there isn't more tragedy that my little heart can handle.
  
Quotes
  
First lines: I write this sitting at an exquisite little Louise 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 six-penny exercise book that I bought in the village this morning--otherwise I'd be too intimidated to write a word..

Favourites

"'How was your first riding lesson? Toby asked.
'Well! You won't believe it! ... I had to put both my legs on one side, in this silly girls' saddle! ... It's boys who have dangling bits between their legs--they ought to be the ones riding sidesaddle!'
'Quite right,' said Toby. 'Especially if they have really large bits. The first time I got off a horse, I couldn't walk properly for hours afterwards.'
Simon was suddenly overcome by a severe coughing fit and had to leave the room in search of a glass of water." (62)


"Why did humans insist on clinging to the past, to things that were lost, probably forever? Why were we so stubbornly territorial, so uncompromising--and so savage to one another--when animals managed to get along quite nicely, wherever they were?" (195)

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AUSTRALIA: Angus & RobertsonThe Nile

INTERNATIONAL:
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I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.





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