Friday, October 12, 2012

Almost-Orphans, Crazy Father Figures, and Medieval Castles

I just finished reading A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper, a historical novel about young royal cousins on an fictional island nation on the cusp of World War II.  I was immediately struck by its similarities to I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, a YA classic that I had missed and recently read on my quest to fill in some of my children's literature gaps.  I wasn't the only one - one of the blurbs in my paperback edition made the connection too.  The similarities are so numerous and specific that I made a list:

  • Orphans or de facto orphans who have to largely fend for themselves, check.
  • Said almost-orphans live in genteel poverty, check.
  • Mentally ill father or father figure, check.
  • Isolated medieval castle, check.
  • 1930s setting, check.
  • Teenage narrator who narrates by writing in her journal, check.
  • "Plain" narrator and more beautiful older sister/cousin, check.  
  • Love interest named Simon, check.

There are, of course, some differences, the major one being that A Brief History of Montmaray addresses politics and the impending world war whereas those go unmentioned in I Capture the CastleA Brief History of Montmaray is also the first book in a trilogy. 

Can you think of any other two books with so many similarities?  I wrote about others that came to mind here, particularly Roald Dahl's classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Wendy Mass's recent book, The Candymakers and here.

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