Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The FitzOsbornes at War by Michelle Cooper

My 2 cents:

Have you ever picked up a brand new book and felt a shiver of excitement, knowing that you,  you ,are the first person to thumb its crisp pages and read its beautiful, clean print? That's how I felt when I first held The FitzOsbornes at War (The Montmaray Journals, Book III), by Michelle Cooper, in my hands. I almost didn't want to read it. Especially since I knew that this book is the last one in Cooper's spellbinding WWII trilogy, as recorded by Princess Sophia of Montmaray. Classified as Young Adult Literature, Cooper's book easily appeals to adults of all ages, young and otherwise.

In The FitzOsbornes at War, Sophia chronicles her experiences in WWII London from 1939 to 1944, with a beautifully-written epilogue, “Four Years Later”. Through Sophie, Cooper captivates the reader with conversations about queue lines (waiting for everything from a single onion to a can of Spam), and relentless, German bombing raids, while she and Princess Veronica hide out in their tiny cellar, night after night. Sophie writes about her war job at the Food Ministry, Veronica's work as a Spanish translator, and family friend Julia Stanley-Ross's experiences as an ambulance driver. And so much more. There's Sophie's brother, King Toby, who enlists as a RAF fighter pilot and goes missing. There's Rupert with his carrier pigeons, and Simon, with his complicated relationships, and Daniel, Veronica's boyfriend's secret war work. There's eccentric Aunt Charlotte, whose estate is turned into a rehab center for wounded British soldiers. And, of course, there's Henry (Princess Henrietta), younger sister to Sophia and Toby, who wrangles her way into the WRENS.

A war story, such as this one, sounds dismal, and it is, in places, as it should be. War is dismal. But, Cooper's book is also funny, amusing, heartwarming, provocative and illuminating. I didn't want the book to end. I didn't want to let go of the characters I felt I had come to know and fiercely like. I didn't want to leave London and the island of Montmaray. This book is a work of historical fiction, but Cooper presents her characters as real-life people. And, any time you bring a group of people together, chances are they will not agree on all issues, such as religion, politics, sexuality, marriage, and even food preferences. That is real life. And, if Cooper encourages tolerance of other people's views, then her book is more than just a good read. It could be life-changing.

Length: 545 pages

Worth Your Time? Yes. Not Since Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, have I lain awake in bed in the dark, long hours after I finished reading the book, and thought about the characters . . . and just wondered about their adventures and how their lives unfolded after 1948. What's your next project, Michelle?

1 comment:

  1. THE FITZOSBORNES AT WAR is listed in "Best Teen Books of 2012" by Kirkus Reviews. For more info about Cooper's novels and awards, visit her website at