This book makes me glad I'm not a princess.
At first I didn't think the plot would ever take off, and I had difficulty deciding what the familial relationships between the characters were. Perhaps I had that problem because my edition had no blurb (why do publishers DO that?) and I had no idea what the book was about when I started it. The writing is nothing grandiose or sweeping, but the heroine has a realistic, engaging voice that keeps the reader moving through the setup. I genuinely liked the main characters and worried when the Nazis showed up to threaten them. In addition, the history of imaginary island nation Montmaray is given enough life to lend realism to the story, but not so much detail that the plot is dragged down.
While I liked the heroine well enough, she was nothing special. I think the author crafted her this way so that she would seem like an ordinary teenage girl caught up in extraordinary circumstances and be relatable. However, I couldn't help but wish brainy, brave Veronica or tomboy Henry had gotten a chance to tell the story instead. I felt that Sophia needed the most maturation and was the least involved in the action, so the author took the easy road and told the story through her eyes.
I do have to hand it to the author on one count: She definitely makes the reader feel the isolation this little family suffers on their island, getting news only from a few letters and the occasional second-hand newspaper.
Recommend to: Historical fiction fans, girly-girls, anyone who needs to be cured of Disney Princess Syndrome or wonders what "genteel poverty" means.
Don't recommend to: Macho guys, Nazis.