Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Book Review: "I Capture the Castle" by Dodie Smith

Seventeen year old Cassandra Mortmain lives in a broken down castle near the small English village of Godsend.  She lives with her father, the genius author who unfortunately has a serious case of writer's block, her artist's model stepmother Topaz, her older sister Rose, her younger brother Thomas and Stephen - their ward.  They might have had money, once...  but its been awhile and they are just scraping by.  Rose is the most bothered by their poverty...  so when the young Cotton brothers have returned to their inheritance - the large nearby estate - Rose is determined to marry one of them.

But this story is told from Cassandra's point of view, as she writes in three journal books over the course of six months.
She is a wonderful narrator, so young and innocent but also very observant and feeling.  This is really her coming-of-age story as she starts to see herself as a woman, as she starts to explore love and what love is...  all set against the beautiful English countryside.  I liked the contrast between country life and that of London.  Also, as the Cotton brothers (Simon and Neil) have come from America - there is also contrast between continents.  The Cotton's and Stephen add up to three young men for Cassandra and Rose to get to know, fall in love with, and have fall in love with them.  What happens with that combination though....

The language here is lyrical and beautiful, as befitting the setting.  This was just such a lovely book... and I liked the fact that there wasn't a neat and tidy ending.  The reader is left to dream about what happens next in Cassandra's life!  The words ran out when her journals did...  I loved it.  I really liked Cassandra and completed related to her.  I would have been friends with her for sure.

What is funny is that I read a used copy and in two separate locations, two words were blocked out with ink.  The first was "Good God", but I have no idea what the second one was!  I've read a lot of used books, and this is the first time this has ever happened to me!  So strange...  but I'll never forget it!

I Capture the Castle
by Dodie Smith
St. Martin's Griffin, 1998.  First published 1948.
343 pages
Source:  Purchased Used



Fiona said...

Oh this is one of my very favourite books. I love the very nostalgic English setting, very green and romantic. Have you seen the film?

Sarah Reads Too Much said...

A film? No! But now I may need to.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I loved this book! I read it for the first time a couple years ago and was so surprised that I hadn't heard of it earlier.

Susan said...

I read this a while back and loved it. She's such a great protagonist!

Fiona said...

The film is great, it is really true to the book and I love Romola Garai who plays Cassandra. All the actors are the perfect choices.

Lindsey said...

Why haven't I read this yet? I have no idea. Everyone loves it. Can I blame it on having too many books to read?!?

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