The narrator, who is consciously attempting to capture in her journal her family s eccentric and impoverished life in their unfurnished, deteriorating castle home, is simply enchanting The book is very much about writing the seventeen year old protagonist Cassandra aspires to be a writer and her strange father rose to fame through the art and Smith weaves a tale full of wit and charm As I read, I was struck by the tension between my desire to read quickly to watch the story unfold and my desire to savor each delightful description and thoughtful reflection.
The novel took me completely by surprise when it shifted tone near its middle I realize now that the early parts of the novel were the records of a carefree and intelligent child and that, in the later parts, the child must begin to grow up I, as a reader, felt the burden of her maturing outlook It felt like a nineteenth century Romance was smacked upside the head with Modernist Realism And I think Smith was going for that She warned me partway through I didn t want to listen The early parts of the book were sprinkled with allusions to Austen and the Bronte sisters while the latter half was preoccupied with Cassandra s father s clearly Modernist work There was rural country in the beginning and city life at the end Even a shift in discussion of art, from Topaz s paintings and lute to Stephen s photographs and films So I guess it had to have a realistic end Though Austen wouldn t have ended the book the way I d have liked it to end anyway Robert Martin may be suitable for Harriet Smith, but even the best of his class wouldn t have been acceptable for Emma And perhaps even Emma could not have been taught to deserve one such as he.
I still can t sum up this book Except that I think that I loved it.
Quotes Contemplation seems to be about the only luxury that costs nothing When I read a book, I put in all the imagination I can, so that it is almost like writing the book as well as reading it or rather, it is like living it My imagination longs to dash ahead and plan developments but I have noticed that when things happen in one s imaginings, they never happen in one s life, so I am curbing myself Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression I know all about the facts of life And I don t think much of them The originators among writers perhaps, in a sense, the only true creators dip deep and bring up one perfect work complete, not a link in a chain It was like the difference between the beautiful old Godsend graves and the new ones open to receive coffins that time takes the ugliness and horror out of death and turns it into beauty On Religion I think it is an art, the greatest one and extension of the communion all the other arts attempt On the word God It s merely shorthand for where we come from, where we re going, and what it s all about Sacrifice is the secret you have to sacrifice things for art and it s the same with religions and then the sacrifice turns out to be a gain You lose yourself in something beyond yourself and it s a lovely rest.
99 Kindle sale, Dec 18, 2018 4 stars Recommended if you like historical, coming of age fiction I had never heard of I Capture the Castle until a friend gave it an extremely strong recommendation Dodie Smith is the author of The 101 Dalmatians the original basis for the Disney movie, and the only reason I was familiar with her name , which I read many years ago and really enjoyed.
This 1948 novel is about an intelligent 17 year old girl, Cassandra Mortmain, who lives in semi genteel but crushing poverty in mid 1930s England, in a dilapidated castle Cassandra has ambitions of becoming an author like her father Her story is told in the form of her journal entries, as she practices her writing skills to try to learn to capture the castle, as well as the people in her life, in her writing.
Cassandra skillfully describes her father s distance and failure to do anything to provide for the family, her stepmother s charm and eccentricity, and her older sister Rose s despair at their isolation and poverty But what broke my heart was her matter of fact descriptions of how their poverty affects their lives every day the too small, worn out clothing the girls have to wear her gratitude for having eggs along with bread and margarine for their evening meal the way the girls trade off sleeping in the one comfortable bed in their room which hasn t been sold only because it s in such bad shape Rose, the beautiful sister, is grimly determined to escape from poverty, even if she has to marry a man she doesn t love When two young American brothers move into town the older son, Simon, is the family s new and wealthy landlord , the Mortmains lives are all turned topsy turvy, with love, romance and secrets.
Cassandra s insights into own and others personalities and motivations are sharp and witty, and occasionally even a little prophetic I think the symbolism of her name from Greek mythology is deliberate, although she misses at least one major secret that a member of her own family is hiding The characters are believable and human, sometimes frustratingly so with their flaws I particularly wanted to smack Cassandra s father upside the head he s a well known author with one famous book to his credit, but for the last ten years he s been struggling with a massive case of writer s block, hiding away in his home office reading detective novels and working on crosswords, while his family sells the furniture to survive I thought there were just a few missteps in the story the chain of unrequited love interests was pushing the boundaries of believability woman wants boy, who loves girl, who loves another guy, who loves another girl, who loves I guessed one big reveal at the end fairly early in the story Cassandra spends a chapter or two examining her views on religion and talking to the local vicar, and then never mentions it again, which made me wonder why it was included in the first place.
But these are minor flaws Cassandra is an enchanting character and a fantastic narrator, surrounded by some unforgettable characters This is a lovely, bittersweet novel that doesn t go for the easy resolution.
This is going to be the shortest review I ve written on this site in a while The reason I m going to keep it short is because no description could possibly do justice to this quintessentially English coming of age story which ranks among the most pleasant surprises I ve had, book wise A summary would make it sound slight, trite and predictable, all of which it is, and would not reflect the fact that it s also funny as hell, charismatic, deliciously eccentric, Austenesque and so utterly charming that I quite literally had sore cheeks after reading it because I couldn t stop smiling at the delightful nonsense the incomparable Cassandra Mortmain spilled out on the pages I m not exaggerating here this book will charm the pants off you, especially if you happen to have two X chromosomes and a bad case of Anglophilia It s what would happen if an early twentieth century Jane Austen were to grow up in a dilapidated castle and get into financial trouble, and that s all I m going say about it, except that I want to be Cassandra Mortmain when I grow down Only I think I ll write my book on a computer rather than sitting in the kitchen sink, because it would be so much comfortable, thank you very much.
That s right I really liked it And I m not ashamed to admit it Now, would you please excuse me while I go read Hemingway and then kill something with my bare hands.
Dear I Capture the Castle,What to say, what to say Hard to put down all the feelings To put it simply you did everything right The characterization like flowers slowly blooming The story like seasons changing, invisibly but inevitably The romance made both heartfelt and utterly, often infuriatingly real The details, oh the details I was put right into this world and right into Cassandra s head And the charm You are such a charming book so amusing and so sweet tempered yet with a certain saltiness as well, and a sharp tang Head in the clouds feet firmly planted on earth You are a love letter to the past and to writing and to what makes a home and to young people with all of their future ahead of them and older people who have all of their future ahead of them You are a love letter to love I fell in love with you in turn I would change nothing about you DEAR HATERS,NO THIS IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE A YOUNG ADULT BOOK IT IS A BOOK ABOUT YOUNG ADULTS SOMETIMES THERE IS A DIFFERENCE.
NO THIS BOOK IS NOT LIKE POND SCUM AND USING THAT DESCRIPTION FOR IT SAYS MORE ABOUT YOU THAN IT DOES ABOUT THE BOOK.
NO THE FATHER IS NEITHER SEXIST NOR ABUSIVE FOR CHRISSAKES.
YES ALL OF THE NUMEROUS AND OFTEN QUIRKY DETAILS ARE THERE FOR A REASON THEY ARE THERE TO PUT THE READER IN CASSANDRA S MIND AND INTO THE WORLD OF THE BOOK I M SORRY YOU DON T UNDERSTAND THAT PLEASE STOP READING books LIKE THIS Dear Friends,It is so very nice that we have this book in common I congratulate us on our mutual good taste Our ability to enter into a new world and experience new things and new people with patience and an open heart are all hallmarks of our exquisitely nuanced, tender, and subtle sensibilities, as well as our sublime and near saintly powers of empathy People like us are, as they say, Simply The Best Now let s have a nice cup of tea together, shall we
With many of my favorite books I can still remember the person who put a copy in my hands Matilda was given to me for my 8th birthday by my stepdad, the title Pride and Prejudice scribbled on a piece of paper and handed to me by my young must ve been straight out of college 7th grade English teacher she gave me the paper and sent me to the library to find it, and I still remember sitting in that classroom taking in the opening page with grand delight.
I hadn t ever heard of I Capture the Castle until Stephanie handed me a yellowed beaten up well loved copy To keep At least, I think it was for keeps was it Stephanie I still have it if you need it back I was about to leave for France I saved the book for the trip, started it in Bretagne in a little loft bedroom and couldn t put it down read it late at night when everyone else was sleeping, sometimes suck outside and read it with a pack of Camel oranges The story is lovely, haunting, hilarious One of the great poor girls coming of age stories And any girl who has a tendency to romanticize the world in bizarre ways will find a kindred spirit in Cassandra I know I did.
i found this book to alternate between delightful and infuriating.
here is the delightful images of the english countryside and the crumbling, fantastic castle cassandra s optimism and intelligence pre simon perfect descriptions of peaceful, contemplative momentsand here is the infuriating cassandra s father a supposed genius but in reality a sexist, abusive, loathsome, distant fellow he appears sporadically to ignore his children, leave his wife lonely, make everyone question his sanity and demand his supper from the ladies of the house the frustrating part of this character is that his terrible behavior is overlooked and often glorified when he should be taken to task i spent a good part of this book longing for someone to throw him into the moat cassandra s personality meltdown after falling in love the optimistic, intelligent, loving, happy girl turns at once into a mean spirited, self centered fool she begins to hate her sister and engage in other sorts of petty, miserable behavior not only is her change of heart unbelievable in how quickly and totally she becomes a different mean, angry, self centered person, but somehow the author seems to insinuate that this very change of heart for the worst is in itself the act of growing up what a sad commentary on aging cassandra s behavior is the back of the book declares, by the time she cassandra pens her final entry, she has captured the castle i do not believe that cassandra captures the castle by the end of this book i think she loses the castle she has lost her optimism and her ability to write without a certain bitterness her words are tainted by her own anger sadness jealousy about her troublesome love i feel that capturing the castle would have meant cassandra maintaining her original good nature, selflessness and happiness despite her failure in love it would have been rectifying in person her horrid behavior towards her sister and most certainly standing up to her father.
This novel was darn near perfect.
Cassandra her family inhabit a castle in conditions of extreme poverty Cassandra captures both her family s character their eccentric life style beautifully in her journals a very rare example of a diary narration working Different styles depths of love are explored I will never be persuaded that Cassandra s father is a likeable or even admirable character, but genius is often uncomfortable to be around.
A chance to enter a long vanished world that should not be missed.
Four months later Something has actually happened Yes, new owners of the mansion have taken possession new neighbours And it s just like a fairytale, for they are none other than two handsome American bachelors, with whom I and my sister will fall in love, and they with ourselves, naturellement But not before many pages of microscopic examination of every trifling occurrence so that a single evening in their company will take 30 pages for me to detail and the sisterly debate about it another ten And certainly not before much gentle yet sharply observed observations on the romantic yearnings of two beautiful yet penniless girls who get the brothers the wrong way round at first Now, let me explain how I first met the American brothers I was in the bath and I had been dying clothes that day, so my entire body was coloured a violent sea green, and they wandered into the crumbling castle thinking no one could possibly live there Imagine the scene They took me for some kind of turtle.
Through Six Turbulent Months Of , Year Old Cassandra Mortmain Keeps A Journal, Filling Three Notebooks With Sharply Funny Yet Poignant Entries About Her Home, A Ruined Suffolk Castle, And Her Eccentric And Penniless Family By The Time The Last Diary Shuts, There Have Been Great Changes In The Mortmain Household, Not The Least Of Which Is That Cassandra Is Deeply, Hopelessly, In Love