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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
6,548234582 (4.12)596
  1. 191
    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (weener)
    weener: Another superb girl's coming-of-age novel!
  2. 181
    Emma by Jane Austen (Voracious_Reader)
    Voracious_Reader: Both books are stories of precocious, witty young women coming of age, albeit in very different eras.
  3. 112
    Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster (mybookshelf)
    mybookshelf: Both are classic stories about unusual young women who enjoy writing.
  4. 91
    Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery (casvelyn)
    casvelyn: The protagonists have a similar voice and outlook on life.
  5. 91
    A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper (Maid_Marian, FutureMrsJoshGroban)
    FutureMrsJoshGroban: Much, much better than "I Capture the Castle"!!!
  6. 70
    The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice (khuggard)
  7. 30
    The Keeping Days by Norma Johnston (wisewoman)
    wisewoman: Similar narrative voice, wry and funny and believable.
  8. 31
    The Town in Bloom by Dodie Smith (KayCliff)
  9. 10
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  10. 10
    The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz (charl08)
    charl08: Both feature strong teenage characters dealing with first romance, family and growing up.
  11. 21
    The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden (Lirmac)
    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.
  12. 10
    Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett (charl08)
    charl08: Both narrated by youthful, naive but entertaining protagonists.
  13. 21
    The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West (DieFledermaus)
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    Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    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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    charl08: Both novels include a young female protagonist who is charismatic, surrounded by interesting characters and loving books. And both are funny.
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    Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (allisongryski)
    allisongryski: Another coming-of-age story dealing with sisters finding their own identities and searching for love.
  18. 01
    Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen (TomWaitsTables)

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» See also 596 mentions

English (232)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (234)
Showing 1-5 of 232 (next | show all)
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith; (5*)

This is the story of an eccentric poor family living in a decrepit, crumbling yet picturesque castle. There is our protagonist, 17 year old Cassandra who loves to write in her journal/diary and records the day to day lives of her family. Then we have her older sister, Rose, who wants nothing more than to marry rich and thus help her family. There is the very eccentric father who was once an acclaimed author but is in the midst of a dry, oh so dry, spell. He pretends that he is trying to write but in actuality spends much of his time hidden away from his family reading detective novels in the attic. Then we have (in a very minor role) Topaz, the father's much younger, but also eccentric in her own way, wife. The household is depressive, stagnant and poor so when 2 young American lads come into their lives great excitement abound with the girls.
I Capture the Castle is a character-driven novel. Cassandra is witty, intelligent and imaginative and has a talent for closely watching and understanding other people. She can be quite blunt to the point of rudeness and the diary like narrative makes it the story even more enjoyable.
I loved this tale and it had most everything for me. Lightness, darkness, a bit of the whimsy and so much more. This was a 5 star read all around for me. ( )
  rainpebble | Sep 4, 2016 |
A book you appreciate at so many different levels depending on what age you are. I love Cassandra. ( )
  thebookmagpie | Aug 7, 2016 |
I had a difficult time with this book. I just couldn't get into it and didn't even finish it. ( )
  2kidsandtired | Aug 2, 2016 |
I had a difficult time with this book. I just couldn't get into it and didn't even finish it. ( )
  2kidsandtired | Aug 2, 2016 |
Delightful, enchanting, old-world style wit with plenty of charm, this is a lovely classic. Cassandra is struggling to stay happy when it seems all around here is caving in, literally. Years earlier the family father published a book that made him well-known and financially comfortable. This was his last book written as now the creative juices are gone. He, a young man who was the son of their former maid, his son, daughters and quirky wife live in a castle -- an old, old castle that is crumbling daily. The description the author paints is simply genteel poverty with a big deal of fortitude. Near destitute, the father does not fret and appears totally out of it. His daughters wear ragged clothes and pine for a better life.

When two American men enter the scene, they find the castle charming, and the family interesting enough to spend time together. When Cassandra's older sister ropes the affection of one of the men, soon Cassandra's heart is breaking as she discovers her love of the same man.

This is a book worth reading, but I do think it could have had a better ending and perhaps less rambling pages. ( )
  Whisper1 | Jun 25, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 232 (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 editionsconfirmed
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.)
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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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