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4.6 out of 5 stars23
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 17 June 2005
This is a page turner, both exciting and humourous the central character being more complex and interesting than would be expected of a children's book due to his two personalities. Although classed as a childrens book this book is definately as enjoyable at 17 as it was when i first read it at about 14. Despite his beginnings as a criminal you can't help but root for Montmorency and the vivid images of victorian life the book creates are facinating. The short chapters and pacy style make it a book that is hard to put down as you just "read the next chapter - oh and the next!!" I for one was delighted when i found there was another book in the series!
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on 30 June 2004
After I had read a chapter or two to my 9-year old, he asked whether the eponymous central character (certainly nothing like the stereotypical hero) was a child. We realised that unlike virtually all modern writing for children there is not a single child/teenager character in this book. And it doesn't matter at all. The snobbery, brutal inequality, filth and chaos of Victorian London is depicted in a way that remains fresh, yet the pace of the plot is never lost.
It's a perfect book to read to a child. Lots to talk about (the brutality of life in Wandsworth prison), not patronising (visits to La Traviata at the Opera House with the landlady and her daughter turning tricks outside or a foray into Balkan intrigue) - we were both sorry when we turned the final page.
Far more than a reworking of Jekyll and Hide, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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on 6 March 2014
Montmorency (by Eleanor Updale) is a tale of a man brought back from the brink of death, who went out to do worse than the crime that landed him in prison. A story of a man who left jail with nothing and five years later has riches beyond his wildest dreams, while his motives are questionable his hart is in the right place (well most of the time anyway). Filled with intrigue, crime riches, scientific enquiry and noble friendship all set in the city of London. From back sewers to embassy’s from crime to national intrigue you just don’t know what’s going to happen next. With Montmorency all the way you won’t want to put it down till the very end.
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VINE VOICEon 13 February 2005
There seems to be a penchant for sewer-as-highway fiction at the moment, but no matter, this is absolutely one to read. I bought it for my eight year old as part of her read-a-million words project because I had seen it reviewed on the first edition of Blue Peter I had seen in years. It was roundly recommended by the jury of children, though I thought it might be a little old for someone of eight. So I thought I would read the first chapter, just to get a feel of it, and see if it would be within her capabilities. I read the whole book in one sitting, which I think qualifies it as a "Page Turner", and yes I think she could cope with it, though it would stretch her - no bad thing. Actually, I think I might just have to read it with her just to make sure she doesn't get stuck, but as she is about to undergo an operation I think I might leave it a while as I don't think she will take kindly to the doctor character!
Fast paced without too much detail, this is unusal enough to engage the imagination of a wide range of readers. I really must check out the sequel......
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on 4 September 2011
: Montmorency begins a thief. He's in prison after a long run of not being caught, and then only got caught because he fell off a roof, or something like that. And then it's time for his release. Determined he wants a better life, he decides he's going to be a proper gentleman. But he can't do that without money. To get around this, he creates two personalities: the gentleman Montmorency and his servant Scarper. This is the story of his double life and the dangers he faces.
The plot was interesting, but not the most memorable. It progresses through various parts of Victorian London, going from prison, to the back alleyways, to the posh end of town and back.
I liked the way Montmorency thinks, his logic behind it all. The way he kept on top of everything was my favourite thing about the book.
It's a different take on the Victorian era, for me anyway. Unlike what I tend to read, this book makes no mention of anything paranormal or futuristic. This is simply a well researched tour of Victorian London, both the posh front and the underworld.
The characters were easy to distinguish, but, like the plot, not the most memorable. But they do stick with you somewhat, such as Cissie, who is most likely the most annoying character I have ever met in a book.
Overall: I give this strength 3 tea to a book that was good, but not amazing. Recommended for younger readers.
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It's difficult to work out which age group this book's aimed at. Children under 10 may be put off by the complexities of the plot whilst children over 10 may be put off by the fact that there's little dialogue to break up the action. It's not helped by the fact that the book revolves an adult amoral protagonist (something of a rarity in childrens' fiction). These might put some parents off from picking up a copy for their children, but I'd nevertheless urge them to give it a go.

Montmorency is a very well told tale of a convict who hits upon the perfect plan for robbing London's rich and privileged inhabitants by using the new sewer system. Montmorency himself is something of a split personality (playing both himself and his amoral manservant), which provides a psychological complexity missing in many childrens' books. There are some sly laughs (notably at the expense of the ghastly hotelier's daughter who takes a shine to the anti-hero) and Updale has produced a plot that doesn't patronise the reader (she includes scenes giving Montmorency an interest in opera and compares the wealth of the aristocracy to the poverty of London's underbelly). The end of the book gives a hint at redemption for Montmorency and sets up an intriguing premise for future adventures, which I'm very much looking forward to reading.
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on 16 June 2009
Take a trip into the back alleys and sewers of Victorian England with a common thief who comes up with a brilliant way of stealing from the aristocracy.

This is an atmospheric and slightly unnerving read with some good historical details. It races along with lots of short chapters but I couldn't quite work out what age group it was aimed at.

The characters came to life when there was dialogue - unfortunately there was a lot of description and not a great deal of dialogue in the book.

All in all an interesting read and a welcome relief from wizards and witchcraft.
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on 20 May 2010
MontmorencyI bought this for my daughter, howver when I picked it up I could not put it down. Well written, just a very good read.
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on 3 March 2004
This book is set in the Victorian times, and features an anonymous character who adopts the name of Montmorency.
The story starts with Montmorency in a very bad state, having fallen through some glass while committing a burglary and almost bleeding to death. Fortunately his life was saved by a surgeon with an interest in new procedures, and at the start of the story he is in prison, recovering but still at the mercy of the doctor, who is experimenting surgical techniques on him and then exhibiting him to fellow scientists.
At one of these conferences Montmorency is witness to a presentation on London's new sewer system, and the idea occurs to him that he could use the sewer system to escape to after burling posh houses and to travel about in under London. He spends the rest of his sentence planning how to do this, and upon his release he starts exploring the sewers.
Montmorency realises that two people will be needed for the plan to work - a peasant with the criminal connections able to blend in a commit the crimes, and an aristocrat with the posh connections to dispose of the goods and live the life of luxury he's been longing for. He decides to be both men - Skinner the thief, and Montmorency the gentleman.
This is a marvellous book. It takes a little while to hook the reader, but once it does the story rattles along at a fast pace. There are plenty of funny moments - particularly those involving Montmorency adjusting to life as a gentleman, but there's a good plot, and nearly all the characters are interesting. Montmorency is a brilliant central character, he's well-rounded and although he's a criminal it becomes apparent that he's no stereotype, but a good person. It's difficult to predict the ending, but by the end you'll be rooting for him to succeed.
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on 4 June 2008
Fantastically written, and wonderfully observational. I loved the characters of Montmorency and Scarper. I also thought that their split personality was very interesting and executed well. The description of London (and the sewers) was very done as well, and accessable. It is true that Montmorency lacked other strong characters, but the main character was so appealing that it hardly mattered.
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