I Capture the Castle
I Capture the Castle is a romance. But it's not a romance in the sense that we tend to think of today, the kind with an open-shirted man on the cover and corsets. In fact, this is exactly the kind of love story that I hated when I was younger. In that way, it reminds me of A Room with a View. The main character (or characters in this instance) make terrible decisions with regards to romance. They choose the wrong men knowingly and are loath to change their minds, even though they are empowered enough to make their own decisions.
When I was younger, I thought these characters such fools for making such obvious errors with regards to their personal lives. How could you think yourself in love with someone for whom you clearly have no feelings? How could you lead on that poor soul who had the misfortune to fall in love with you, even though you know you will never fall for him? Why would you settle for the one you don't want when the other is within your reach? Stupid girls, I thought. So unrealistic. Then, I grew up and realized that emotions are really complicated and that situations that seem obvious from an impartial viewer are exceedingly difficult to deal with when you're embroiled within them. Once I realized that, I came to find these love stories so much more meaningful than the garden variety romances one reads nowadays.
The novel moves a bit slowly at times, as there are a number of mundane details included to make the setting and characters feel real. That certainly does work and it does really feel as though you are reading Cassandra Mortmain's journal and not Dodie Smith's novel. This slower pace may lose some readers, but I think it is worth the effort.
Cassandra Mortmain's greatest aspiration is to be a writer like her father used to be, a long time ago. He once wrote a critically acclaimed novel, Jacob Wrestling, but never published anything else, and so the income of the Mortmain family dwindled into nothingness. Cassandra now lives with her older sister Rose, her younger brother Thomas, and her stepmother Topaz in a crumbling castle that her father bought back when he still had money.
I first saw this book at a friend's house and, after flipping through it, was intrigued, but I hesitated to read it because I was looking for a light YA book, and how could a book from the 40s be a "light YA book"? Quite easily, in fact- one of the things that impressed me most about this book was that it could quite easily have come off the press yesterday. Cassandra, unlike many of the female protagonists present in novels from the 40s, is a genuinely flawed character.
I would highly recommend this story to anyone who appreciates the versatility of YA books.
Once in a while youll come across a book that really resounds with you and stays on your mind for days after youve read it. I CAPTURE THE CASTLE is this type of book.
17-year-old Cassandra lives with her impoverished family in a romantic but run-down castle. Her father is James Mortmain, author of the wonderfully philosophical JACOB WRESTLING, now studied by college students worldwide, who now would rather hole up in his gatehouse than attempt to write another book and thus supply the family with more income. Cassandras stepmother Topaz is a stunningly attractive woman very devoted to her husband, and Cassandras older sister Rose is a glam girl who dreams of a rich life.
Just when life seems like it has bottomed out, salvation arrives in the form of two young American brothers who own the lease to the Mortmains castle. Neil and Simon immediately enter the Mortmains lives, and Rose is soon swept up into visions of a glamorous life by marrying one of the brothers. She has her eyes on Simon, the older one who is enraptured by her.
Cassandra observes the courtship amusedly from her position on the sideline, writing avidly in her journal. Her concerns are not so much getting a comfortable life through marriage as they are about figuring out her feelings for family friend/caretaker Stephen and trying to improve her writing skills. Therefore, she is not prepared for becoming a full-time participant in the game of love after Rose marries Simon and things supposedly start getting better for their family.
Cassandra is a wonderfully witty and thoughtful narrator, the early-twentieth-century equivalent of Jessica Darling, for fans of Megan McCaffertys writings. Its hard to put this book down, and Cassandra will be a protagonist you will want to emulate and be friends with.
The plot is good, even though the book starts off slow. It is complex and hard to understand, so it may be best for older readers. It was promising at first, but I went on it got boring and painstaking to read. This is not Dodie's Smith's best work. The ending is predictable and unrealistic. Try 101 Dalmations--also by this author. It's much better than this one.
'I Capture the Castle' by Dodie Smith is a wonderful book about an eccentric family and how they must cope in the 1920's to 1930's. Cassandra is the heroine and she 'captures life at the castle', where lifes through her diary. The book, although lacking in a highly adventourous plot, keeps you entertained and interested. It's romance, basically, but not the kind you may think. I think this is a novel that shows one of the grittier side to the romantic genre.
All in all, I recommend this book, along with other great authors, lie J.K Rowling!
This was a good holiday read. Though not a great deal happened and it was relatively unexciting it was interesting and a good read. It is written as the journal of a young girl named cassandra, an account of her extraordinary life with her extraordinary family. Cassandra records what goes on in her household with pure and touching honesty and we hear her views on life and love. this is funny in places and very moving. definately worth a read, though you have to persevere as it gets off to a slow start.