I Capture the Castle is the quirky and engaging journal of Cassandra Mortmain, a girl who lives in a rundown castle in England in the 1930's. Don't let her romantic castle life fool you, however—the Mortmain family is teribly poor. The family—consisting of Cassandra, her father, her older sister Rose, her younger brother Thomas, and their eccentric young stepmother Topaz—has been living on the dwindling earnings from the only book their father has ever published. Life is dismal and dreary until one day, like the beginning of Pride and Prejudice (as Rose points out) the neighboring Scoatney Hall is let to a pair of American gentlemen. One thing leads to another, and soon Cassandra and her sister are caught up in a tale of love, London, literature, and life.
This is the kind of story that draws you in from the very beginning with just a few little details, from the opening line (I write this sitting in the kitchen sink) to the descriptions of the castle and of daily life around it. Cassandra is a witty and blunt narrator, dutifully recording her thoughts and observations in an attempt to capture life around the castle.
The cheerfulness and sparkling wit begin to evaporate halfway through the story when Cassandra falls in love. Her journey from innocent and good-natured girl to one who is resentful and melancholy due to unrequited love is hard to watch, and the story, while never quite losing its witty and engaging touch, can become a bit bleak and frustrating. At the end, however, Cassandra is forced to grow up at least a little, and she does so. Though she has a long way still to go, her change for the better (however small) is encouraging.
The writing style, the feeling it evokes, and the charming atmosphere of the book has endeared it to many readers, and with good reason. Dodie Smith (best known for writing The Hundred and One Dalmations) masterfully captures Cassandra's coming-of-age story, one that is full of tears and heartache, resentment and laughter, moonlit nights and romantic summer mist.
Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here.
Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here
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