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I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
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I Capture the Castle (1948)

by Dodie Smith

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,241254753 (4.14)654
Recently added byMrAndrew, dnb1129, private library, itsprobablyme, camillawb, juliemac19, Mishelle_Lexi, JennyE1
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» See also 654 mentions

English (250)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (253)
Showing 1-5 of 250 (next | show all)
# 22 of 100 Classics Challenge
I Capture The Castle🍒🍒🍒🍌
By Dodie Smith
1948

This story is in the form of a journal, written by a 17 year old Cassandra Mortmain, who lives with her unusual and interesting family in a dilapidated but once beautiful castle. She is timid, rather awkward and believes her life will go nowhere when she falls in love with one of the new heirs of the castle. This is not a happily-ever-after book. There is much tension as well as many pleasurable moments within the family and within their individual lives. The passion and candor of Cassandra's journal shares much insight into the twists and turns and ironies of her life, and the depth of her emotions and desires.
We meet Rose, Cassandra's older sister who will do anything to escape the families poverty; Thomas, her brother, the scholar; Topaz, her step mother, a model who enjoys nudity, and her father who is the author of a long ago bestseller whose past career profits the family lives on. Since the bestseller he has had writers block and spends his days in his study hoping for inspiration. He was not a major character but is one of my favorites in the book.
I would recommend this for its compelling characters and narration, but I did not love this.
  over.the.edge | Sep 10, 2018 |
Got to the end of the first chapter and have no desire to read anymore. I really don't get books that are written in the form of someone's journal, yet they are able to describe in detail everyone's clothes, location, dialogue, etc. in excruciatingly specifics exactly in the time it's happening. Why can't the character narrate the story in present tense without resorting to the package of a diary? It feels contrived and I've gotten to a point in my life that I don't need top finish books I don't like just because it's a "classic".
  wrightja2000 | Sep 6, 2018 |
Couldn't get thru the first 100 pages. Just not for me.
  tapestry100 | Aug 31, 2018 |
The novel is presented as the writing journal of seventeen-year old Cassandra Mortmain, who is using it to practice her own form of speed-writing and learn how to write a novel. Her aspiration is to become another Charlotte Brontë. She lives with her family, her older sister Rose, her younger brother Thomas, her stepmother Topaz (an artist’s model) and Stephen Colly (the son of a deceased servant) who’s deeply smitten by Cassandra, in the remains of a fourteenth-century English castle. The part the family occupies was added a century later, and “modernized” in the Victorian era. “And Belmotte Tower, all that remains of an even older castle, still stands on its mound close by.”

This romantic setting was leased by their father a decade ago after the success of his modernist novel, Jacob Wrestling. He has not written anything since then, and the Mortmains are broke. They’ve sold off most of their furniture and are three years behind in their rent. The rent isn’t an immediate concern because the “landlord, a rich old gentleman who lived in Scoatney Hall, five miles away … died last November.”

Then for better and for worse the wealthy Cottons, a Mother and two eligible bachelor sons, the heirs of the old gentleman, arrive from America. The older son, Simon, is a great fan of Jacob Wrestling, and Cassandra’s sister Rose, becomes a fan of Simon. I will not divulge any spoilers to the fascinating romantic tragicomedy that follows. I will say that playwright Smith’s first venture in prose fiction is a masterpiece.

In Anna South’s afterword she writes that I Capture the Castle is a very ambiguous title, since the real estate, the castle, never changes hands, by force or by law. Nevertheless, its concluding chapter cites the enigma of life as the source of human art and psychology. And there are passages that could include theology and, really, all human knowledge as driven by the same problem-solving impulse. It could also mean that Smith, writing as her character Cassandra, has captured in this, her first novel, a very tumultuous time in the life of a very eccentric and memorable cast of characters. ( )
  MaowangVater | Aug 20, 2018 |
An angsty-teenager novel published in 1940s...what could be better than that? Written in the format of the diary by Cassandra Mortmain, a 17 year old girl who writes about well, pretty much nothing and everything all at once. What I love about this book is that despite it being published in the 1940s, I read this in 2011 and was able to self-identify with Cassandra, as I remembered my 17 year old self and all the ups and downs and boy-drama of being a teenager. In conclusion, the book is mostly about Cassandra who likes this one dude, who doesn't like her, but another dude likes her, but she doesn't like him. If you're a gal who ever was or is a teenager - you will most likely enjoy this book. ( )
  mandarella | May 21, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 250 (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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Epigraph
Dedication
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Introduction
Cassandra Mortmain, as one critic said, is a young girl 'poised between childhood and adultery'.
I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.
Quotations
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.
Haiku summary

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)

» see all 15 descriptions

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