Author: Michelle Cooper
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Series: The Montmaray Journals, book two
Audiobook: Listening Library/Books on Tape
Source: Purchased audiobook at NCTE, purchased ebook
About the Book: Michelle Cooper combines the drama of pre-War Europe with the romance of debutante balls and gives us another compelling historical page turner.
Sophia FitzOsborne and the royal family of Montmaray escaped their remote island home when the Germans attacked, and now find themselves in the lap of luxury. Sophie's journal fills us in on the social whirl of London's 1937 season, but even a princess in lovely new gowns finds it hard to fit in. Is there no other debutante who reads?!
And while the balls and house parties go on, newspaper headlines scream of war in Spain and threats from Germany. No one wants a second world war. Especially not the Montmaravians—with all Europe under attack, who will care about the fate of their tiny island kingdom?
Will the FitzOsbornes ever be able to go home again? Could Montmaray be lost forever?
My Thoughts: The cover of this book is what finally got me to read A Brief Hostory of Montmaray. It made me desperate to read this one and I just couldn't without reading book one first! The font, the black and white floor, the red belt and lips... it captures so much of what I love about the time period! The book was everything I wanted the first one to be and more! I started out listening to the audiobook and it was just as well done as A Brief History of Montmaray. Emma Bering is perfect for Sophie. Her narration really helped me to get in to the feel of the story. About 2/3 of the way through the audiobook two others that I was waiting for came in at the library so I bought the ebook and finished the story by reading it. The entire time I was reading I had Emma Bering's voice in my head. It was great :)
As I said in my review of A Brief History of Montmaray I liked it but it was a bit slow. It left off right when I really got in to it. Thankfully that is where The FitzOsbornes in Exile picks up. Sophie and the rest of the FitzOsborne family are now staying with their aunt in England. High society London in 1937? Yes, please! I loved the fashion and the social whirl. Sophie is learning the ins and outs, the dos and don'ts of society. It's all new and foreign to her. Since the story is again told through her journal we get a fresh view of it all. Of course Veronica is as politically minded as ever and not afraid to show it. Her intelligence and wit were appreciated by this reader! Her "debates" with Simon were some of my favorite scenes. I also loves seeing the FitzOsbornes interact. They have their differences but are clearly a family that cares about each other. It was nice to see.
Another aspect that I unexpectedly enjoyed was the lack of romantic relationships. There are some relationships hinted at and Sophie reveals her feelings about some of the other characters. That is about all I can say without being too spoilery. It just seemed really authentic to me. Sophie is writing her journals at a time when her world is on the brink of war. As well as trying to find her place in a new situation she is also helping to get her home back and trying to make sense of the horrible things going on in the world. Her journal reflects all these things. As with A Brief History of Montmaray I loved all the history that was worked in to the story. I think it's easy to look back on the events that lead to WWII and think, "What were they thinking?!?! How could everyone not see that Hitler was a pot of crazy evil?!?" While I still think that to some extent it was interesting to see and understand a bit more about what was going on.
I really enjoyed The FitzOsbornes in Exile and cannot wait to get my hands on The FitzOsbornes at War. If you want to get the most out of this book I suggest reading A Brief History of Montmaray. You can enjoy and understand the story without it but having the background will add to the experience.