The FitzOsbornes at Warby Published 09 Oct 2012
|The FitzOsbornes at War.pdf|
|Publisher||Knopf Books for Young Readers|
Michelle Cooper completes her heart-stealing epic drama of history and romance with The FitzOsbornes at War.
Sophie FitzOsborne and the royal family of Montmaray escaped their remote island home when the Nazis attacked. But as war breaks out in England and around the world, nowhere is safe. Sophie fills her journal with tales of a life during wartime. Blackouts and the Blitz. Dancing in nightclubs with soliders on leave. And endlessly waiting for news of her brother Toby, whose plane was shot down over enemy territory.
But even as bombs rain down on London, hope springs up, and love blooms for this most endearing princess. And when the Allies begin to drive their way across Europe, the FitzOsbornes take heart—maybe, just maybe, there will be a way to liberate Montmaray as well.
The FitzOsbornes at War Reviews
****NO SPOILERS BECAUSE THERE ARE ENOUGH REVIEWS WITH THAT ALREADY SO NO WORRIES ON THAT FRONT.
Solid 4.5 stars.
Okay,onto the review now. So if you are reading this book/looking into reading this book/deciding whether or not you want to read this book that someone has reccomended to you, then you have obviously read book one and book two and have fallen in love with Sophie and her family and friends, yes? No? Okay, first go read a brief history of montmaray and then the fitzosbornes in exile and then come back here to read this exciting and satisfying final conclusion to the previous novels.
Because that is what this book is. A conclusion. And yes, things happen. People die, people live, people fall in love, people fall out of love and some is easier to take then others and some is harder but if you love Sophie FitzOsborne, if you adore her, if you think they should build a statue of her in the park for all to see, if you wished Montmaray was real so you could go visit and walk the rocky land Sophie grew up on, if you even once tried attempting your own coded launguage, then this book (and previous novels) are for you. Honestly. This book is long, it's epic and it spans all the years of war. You will laugh, you will cry, you will clutch your chest in shock. But all in all, you will close the last page glad you had a chance to meet Sophie and her eccentric group of family and friends. And honestly, there is no better way I can rec a book, rec a series then that. Also, taken from the author's website, Sophie's motto for pretty much the entire series.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ I see lots of re-reads of this series in my future. ♥ ♥ ♥
A Quick Rundown of Random Feelings:
A) I think the first person really becomes a problem in this book, because a lot of the things I wanted to know kind of get unresolved. Especially in regards to Toby/Simon. We just get some kind of rush, threesome marriage implications and that is supposed to be that. I just wanted some kind of closure, I don't feel like I got it?
B) Also, I really enjoyed the build-up of Rupert/Sophie in FitzOsbornes in Exile, but boy did the scene where they eventually come together feel forced. Like, I had to re-read it twice because I was unsure where the hell it came from. It was honestly just SUDDENLY, RUPERT IS HERE AND I LOVE HIM!!! The potential romance was so understated and sweet in its build-up, that I was hoping its culmination would at least make sense.
C) The way the book tried to shoehorn the necessary tragedy in with Henry's death, felt really false to me. It was like Cooper knew that they all couldn't have the ridiculous happy endings the book gave them, so you know, kill the youngest one.
D) Generally, I feel like the book was trying to do too much, and fit such a big time frame in that it was weakened overall. Weirdly, like Downton Abbey season 2, it seems like that the desperate need to fit the ENTIRE war in really hampered the characterization and plot.
E) I still liked it, but after LOVING "Exile", this was definitely a huge disappointment. There were things to love, but not as much as I previously did. Shame, really.
December 12, 2013
This is Exhibit A in the case for adults reading YA. Like The Hunger Games, there's no wincing away from the horrors of war. There's a little bit of romance, but as in Rosamund Pilcher's The Shell Seekers or Coming Home, (which were not published as YA, but as women's fiction), the narrative remains focused on a young woman in wartime, and how that particular war dragged on so long that individuals held many different kinds of jobs and faced different kinds of hardships at different stages
History fans will love the depth of research Cooper did, and all the snippets of real characters and events that are incorporated. Devoted readers will enjoy that Sophie mentions what she's reading from time to time. Progressives and conservatives will appreciate that period characters express a broad range of ideals and are treated appropriately by the society of the day.
But I love it because even though Cooper allows her characters to discover all the worst atrocities, she also allows them to discover strengths within themselves, and to find a way through. The villains don't always get punished, but the good do receive some sort of reward, if only the relief of it all being over.
Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers
3rd September 1939
I'm quite sure that, in twenty or thirty years' time, people will say about this morning, "I'll never forget where I was when I heard the news."
So begins The FitzOsbornes at War, with the news of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announcing that the country at long last is at war with Germany. Sophie FitzOsborne may be a princess, but she and the rest of her family have been in exile from their invaded homeland for two years. While the events at the end of The FitzOsbornes in Exile ended with a rousing declaration against the aggression of the Nazis, who had invaded and seized their homeland, finally England is at war. For Sophie, war is a frightening, unfathomable beast - and with her brother Toby (current King of Montmaray) and cousin Simon enlisted in the Royal Air Force, fear is an ever-present companion. At least for the first few months, nothing seems to be happening. Sophie and her cousin Veronica move to London and take up in a small flat adjacent to the grand Montmaray House, finding ways to help with the war effort - Veronica finds a position with the Foreign Affairs office, while Sophie takes a role in the Ministry of Food. When the fighting starts in earnest, food and everyday items are rationed, and bombs start falling on London, the grim reality of war sets in. And for Sophie, for her beloved family and dear friends, nothing will ever be the same.
A far cry from the engagements and parties of The FitzOsbornes in Exile, or the smaller daydreams of a girl staring out of her ruined castle on the rocky shores of A Brief History of Montmaray, The FitzOsbornes at War is a more somber, but ever more powerful book. It's an older book (Sophie is now in her twenties), but it also deals with the most grave subject matter - the crescendo of discordant war and fear to which the first two novels were building. Easily, this third and final novel is the best of the Montmaray books; the most heart-rending, the most resonant. And, as with the first two novels, The FitzOsbornes at War all hinges on voice. An epistolary series of entries, related in english to us but coded in kernetin, it is Sophie's voice that drives the Montmaray novels, and it is her voice that makes this final act so resonant and truthful. Unlike, say, Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity (which is also an epistolary novel of WWII, but far more extravagant, with characters that are spies and pilots in the thick of action and interrogation), Cooper's is a book that examines the sacrifices and horrors, the tedium and changes to everyday life endured by those in London during the Blitz and subsequent years. Through Sophie's journal entries, we see how she and Veronica prepare their flat for blackouts every night; we huddle with them as the bombs fall; we feel their keen edge of frustration and impotence as night after night they rush to the cellars to sleep, they queue for hours for a bar of soap. It's a completely different kind of story of war, a quieter one, but one that Cooper masterfully relates through Sophie's honest, engaging voice.
As a heroine, Sohpie has grown so much over the course of these three books. The childhood dreams of her journals as a sixteen year old on Montmaray feel like a whole lifetime apart from this new older, wiser protagonist. She still struggles with her feelings and relationships with her other family members, but she has grown into confidence and self-acceptance; her narrative spends less time worrying about luncheons and the schemes of Aunt Charlotte, and turns to other, deeper reflection - relationships and love, yes, but also the roles women play in the war, of her own sexuality, of her own beliefs and self-worth. It's not just Sophie that changes here, though. We also see a dramatically changed Toby - whose heartbreaking arc is a departure from the carefree charmer of the past - and a Veronica that comes to grips with her own emotions and attachments. Henry is a girl of sixteen, whose exuberance and rebellious nature remains unchecked, driving her to become expelled from school and to enlist, while Simon too becomes a much more serious and conflicted character as the war progresses. And, as this is a novel of war and struggle, not everyone makes it out alive. No one makes it out unscarred.
There are so many other characters, too - the Stanley-Rosses, the Kennedeys, and more play a vital role in this third novel. You may recognize some of the names - Billy Hartington and Kick Kennedy, for example - who actually were real figures. As with the first two books, The FitzOsbornes at War blends historical fact with fiction effortlessly. This novel, however, is far more extensive in breadth and depth of research; I'm in awe of how much research went into the writing of this book. (Don't believe it? There's an extensive author's note at the end of the book explaining which elements are fact and which are fictitious - it's a very, very long list.) Informative and thorough without being info-dumpy or preachy, accurate without being dry or boring, The FitzOsbornes at War touches on everything from wartime ration pamphlets to auxillary airforce responsibilities and stations.
What else can I say about The FitzOsbornes at War? I loved this book. I loved it because it tore out my heart as I anguished with Sophie and her dear family and friends. But I loved it more because it gently restored that same heart, injured, bruised, bleeding, but hopeful - hopeful for the future of the FitzOsbornes, for Montmaray, and for the war-battered world in the aftermath of so much horror and death. If there's one thing that The FitzOsbornes at War does, it gravely and truthfully shows that in war, there are no winners, no glorious shining victors. Everything changes for Sophie and her kin in this book, and through her frank, heartbreaking narrative, we observe the saga of a family struggling to survive in wars senseless, fickle path of destruction.
This is a cathartic conclusion to a brilliant trilogy; a tale of endurance and hope and bitter change. I dearly loved The FitzOsbornes at War, and will cherish it as one of my favorite reads in the years to come. One of my top 10 favorite novels of 2012, and a perfect, if heartbreaking, end to a truly amazing trilogy.
And I end this review with an earnest plea: if you haven't read the Montmaray books yet, please, please give Princess Sophia and her family a try. You will not regret the journey - though you may like me lose a piece of your heart to the FitzOsbornes along the way.
HOLY CRAP SHE KILLED HENRY? WTF?
I do not know how to deal with that, because I was expending all my worry on Toby and Simon (I thought Simon would be a goner, but I figured Toby would end up alive).
I really loved a lot of things in this book and how they pay off the set up from the first two - Sophie/Rupert, Toby/Simon/Julia, how non-judgy Sophie, and the narrative in general, was of Julia's pregnancy and subsequent abortion, and Toby's homosexuality. How Sophie got her moment with Simon and it didn't ruin either of them, how Veronica and Daniel are together without getting married, etc. Just, really lovely to see all of that being accepted by the characters (though I'm sure Aunt Charlotte is rolling in her grave that the next king of Montmaray is going to be Simon's son instead of Toby's).
I just really loved spending time with the FitzOsobornes and can't recommend these books highly enough.