"I Capture The Castle"

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

Casandra Mortmain lives in a run-down English castle (I never can resist a book about an old house) with her family: father, James; step-mother, Topaz; sister, Rose; Brother, Thomas; and friend/boarder/hired hand, Stephen. James is a writer who had some success in years past but now fritters away his days doing crosswords and unknown things behind a closed door, leaving his family pretty much penniless. The furniture, china and anything else of value were long ago sold for food and other necessities. They have all grown accustomed to being cold and hungry, and yet there is little resentment. They accept things as they are, making the best of not-so-pleasant circumstances and looking for the positives.

Things begin to change when an estate in the area is inherited by an American family and the Mortmain's lives become entangled with theirs. There is romance, and that's how this book and it's movie are usually promoted, but there is much more to it than that. Cassandra's  relationships with her family members are a major part of the story, as is the castle itself. I wouldn't categorize it as a romance, but then I'm not sure what I would call it.

Cassandra tells her story through a series of journals she keeps. She begins with a cheap notebook, moves on to a better one and finishes with a blue and gold leather bound journal received as a gift from one of the American brothers. The book is structured into three sections according to the journal she's writing in and the months covered. "The Sixpence Book - March" is followed by "The Shilling Book - April and May" and "The Two Guinea Book - June to October". She's a wonderful narrator - bright, observant, witty and rich in personality. When I got to the end I didn't want to be finished. I wanted, and still want, more of this writing, more of this story and more of these people. I want to live in the crumbling castle and be part of it's story.

This is another of the older books I've been finding lately, first published in 1948, that have recently been brought back into print. I wonder how many forgotten treasures like this one are buried in old libraries never seeing the light of day. I'm grateful there are publishers bringing some of them back into circulation.

On the back cover of my copy a quote from the New York Times says: "It is an occasion worth celebrating when a sparkling novel, a work of wit, irony and feeling is brought back into print after an absence of many years. So uncork the champagne for 'I Capture the Castle'." This book should be celebrated. I loved every page of it. I hope you'll read it and find it as endearing and satisfying as I did. 



Elizabeth said...

Yes, the most glorious and lovely read.
Enchanting and such fun.
I would recommend it highly.

Ordinary Reader said...

Elizabeth I couldn't agree more. Have you read any others of hers?

Addicted to Films said...

I cannot resist a book about old houses either :). Read this a few years ago, and loved it. I would recommend the movie too.

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