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I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I Capture the Castle (1948)

by Dodie Smith

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,861241535 (4.13)616
  1. 191
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    weener: Another superb girl's coming-of-age novel!
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    casvelyn: The protagonists have a similar voice and outlook on life.
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    FutureMrsJoshGroban: Much, much better than "I Capture the Castle"!!!
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    Lirmac: The Greengage Summer and I Capture the Castle are both exquisitly-crafted books narrated by girls on the brink of maturity. Both are engaging and timeless, and neither descends into the clichés of the 'coming of age' story.
  14. 44
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    allisongryski: Another coming-of-age story dealing with sisters finding their own identities and searching for love.
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    BookshelfMonstrosity: Although I Capture the Castle is a coming-of-age story, not a mystery, both witty novels are narrated by precocious girls who, left to their own devices by their eccentric families, pursue adventures within the confines of quiet English villages.… (more)
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» See also 616 mentions

English (239)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  All (241)
Showing 1-5 of 239 (next | show all)
A really good "period piece". ( )
  kimkimkim | Aug 21, 2017 |
I know that this is a tired refrain with me, but this would've been transformative if I'd read it at 10, or maybe even as late as 14, but reading it as an adult I'm hyper-aware of how affective it would have been, and get lost in this sort of failed superimposition of my younger headspace. I don't disparage this book at all, in fact I would fully recommend it, but the reading experience contained that pretty odd disconnect for me.

I suppose part of my expectation in its forming a deeper impression on me has to do with the fact that my older sister loved this book and I always meant to borrow it from her, but never did until I was trying to sort through her kitchenware to furnish my new apartment with, and came across a box of books with this sitting at the very top. (I figured she was too far away to mind if I took it.) Then my youngest sister read it, and she loved it too with the same deeply affective response to it. Because of this it's hard for me to think of reading it without connecting emotionally quite as deeply as they did.

That said, last night I stayed up in bed reading it to the end, reading later and longer than I ever intended, simply because I couldn't stop at any point in the last hundred pages for the life of me. It rekindled a feeling of being 12 years old, of reading past midnight in my room alone, of feeling like no one else in the world exists.

A note on the (dreadful) cover: Based on title and cover, my imagined version of this book was about a girl from the modern day (the 90s, that was) time-travelling back to a 12th or 13th century castle. The aforementioned youngest sister initially couldn't tell when reading it what period it was set in (because, of course, they are on the cusp of two eras, with a mixture of two national ideologies and social expectations), especially since she had a hard time putting "90s girl" out of her head. And really, the promo material for other books by this publishing division actually was mid-90s YA stuff set in dystopian futures and I'm happy to say one of the blurbs made mention of time-travelling so I think I was getting the right idea, but that they might have mixed up cover art of something, because this is some of the most appalling design that could've been made for this book. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
Surprised I had not read this before. Although the book was written in the 1940s and is set in England in the 1930s, there are aspects of the story, aspects of Cassandra's telling of the story, that, although not quite timeless, seem to exist outside of time. Cassandra's thoughts, the way she tells the story, are unique to themselves, and they are simultaneously modern and at the same time seemingly incomprehensible to modern readers. It is a story of place, of people, a story of first love, of bad decisions and good decisions, and how we are shaped by our circumstances to a large part, but again only partially. It is a story of capturing not only a place, but one's voice, and discovering who one might be. ( )
  dooney | Feb 4, 2017 |
This classic novel about a seventeen-year-old girl and her family, living in a dilapidated, old English castle, has one of literature’s “most charismatic narrators”, according to author J.K Rowling.
  mcmlsbookbutler | Dec 7, 2016 |
I knew nothing about this book when I started it and I think that is the best way to approach it. At first I wasn't sure I was going to be interested but by the time it ended, I was utterly charmed. ( )
  leslie.98 | Oct 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 239 (next | show all)
This book was such a wonderful, enchanting and unpredictable read that by the end of it I felt like I almost was Cassandra, since her confessions, recordings and thoughts in her journals gave me a thorough insight into her. I also loved how the sections of the book were arranged in differently priced notebooks, which really demonstrated the progression of the story
It feels, reading it now, as if this is the story that every romantic comedy Hollywood has ever made has been trying to tell. And when we come towards the end of the book and a marriage proposal and happily-ever-after storyline seems to be in the offing, I was worried we were going to stray into that territory. But Smith is too good a writer, Cassandra too interesting a person to settle for this.
added by Nickelini | editthe Independent, Evie Wyld (Jul 19, 2013)

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dodie Smithprimary authorall editionscalculated
Agutter, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grove, ValerieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steed, RuthIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Cassandra Mortmain, as one critic said, is a young girl 'poised between childhood and adultery'.
I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.
I know all about the facts of life. And I don't think much of them.
She was so scared, she forgot to be a contralto.
Topaz said she had never been on the streets and rather regretted it, which is the kind of Topazism it requires much affection to tolerate.
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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
'I write this sitting in the kitchen sink' is the first line of a novel about love, sibling rivalry and a bohemian existence in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. Cassandra Mortmain's journal record her fadingly glamorous stepmother, Topaz, her beautiful, wistful older sister, Rose, and the man to whom all three of them owe their isolation and their poverty: Father. I Capture the Castle has inspired writers as diverse as Armistead Maupin and Joanna Trollope and remains a classic tale of the triumph of youthful naivety over middle-aged cyncism.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 031231616X, Paperback)

Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain wants to become a writer. Trouble is, she's the daughter of a once-famous author with a severe case of writer's block. Her family--beautiful sister Rose, brooding father James, ethereal stepmother Topaz--is barely scraping by in a crumbling English castle they leased when times were good. Now there's very little furniture, hardly any food, and just a few pages of notebook paper left to write on. Bravely making the best of things, Cassandra gets hold of a journal and begins her literary apprenticeship by refusing to face the facts. She writes, "I have just remarked to Rose that our situation is really rather romantic, two girls in this strange and lonely house. She replied that she saw nothing romantic about being shut up in a crumbling ruin surrounded by a sea of mud."

Rose longs for suitors and new tea dresses while Cassandra scorns romance: "I know all about the facts of life. And I don't think much of them." But romantic isolation comes to an end both for the family and for Cassandra's heart when the wealthy, adventurous Cotton family takes over the nearby estate. Cassandra is a witty, pensive, observant heroine, just the right voice for chronicling the perilous cusp of adulthood. Some people have compared I Capture the Castle to the novels of Jane Austen, and it's just as well-plotted and witty. But the Mortmains are more bohemian--as much like the Addams Family as like any of Austen's characters. Dodie Smith, author of 101 Dalmations, wrote this novel in 1948. And though the story is set in the 1930s, it still feels fresh, and well deserves its reputation as a modern classic. --Maria Dolan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:21 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The story of 17-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Over six turbulent months, she fills three diaries with sharply funny yet poignant entries and manages to find herself hopelessly in love. By the time she pens her final entry, she has "captured the castle" and the heart of the reader.… (more)

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