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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
6,007204694 (4.15)524
  1. 191
    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (weener)
    weener: Another superb girl's coming-of-age novel!
  2. 171
    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. 80
    Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery (casvelyn)
    casvelyn: The protagonists have a similar voice and outlook on life.
  4. 102
    Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster (mybookshelf)
    mybookshelf: Both are classic stories about unusual young women who enjoy writing.
  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
    The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford (souloftherose)
  10. 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.
  11. 21
    The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West (DieFledermaus)
  12. 44
    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.
  13. 01
    Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen (one-horse.library)
  14. 12
    Seacrow Island by Astrid Lindgren (starbox)

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» See also 524 mentions

English (202)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (204)
Showing 1-5 of 202 (next | show all)
May be a good read for those who like Jane Austen or enjoyed Little Women. ( )
  Mirandalg14 | Aug 18, 2014 |
The book is rich in details. I've only just started so I don't want to jump to too many conclusions yet about the story. The method of telling the story reminds me heavily of Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery. I will journal again when I finish the book later this week.

My husband asked me last night what this book is about. Without giving a second thought I blurted out: "It's like The Great Gatsby." Then I had to take a step back and think to myself -- why the heck did that book come immediately to mind?

Nick Carraway, the narrator and protagonist of The Great Gatsby describes Jay Gatsby, all his excesses and his hangers on with a sense of detachment and mild amusement. Cassandra, the narrator and protagonist of I Capture the Castle takes the same approach with her description of the Cottons, who are visiting from America. In Cassandra's case, her family's extreme poverity heightens the divide between the two families and opens her eyes even wider to the oddities of the wealthy. ( )
  pussreboots | Aug 3, 2014 |
Read during Winter 2002

Strangely, I couldn't put this down for the last third but I didn't like it that much either. The journal of Cassandra Mortmain, which gives it a tremedously stilted style. She is 17 much reads much younger and I just stopped believing in her feelings. Started with some ambition but ended like a romance novel. Eh.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
This is a very charming love story told through the journal of 17 year old Cassandra. Cassandra lives in genteel poverty in a run down English castle with her sister - Rose, brother, one servant/family friend, stepmother, and her father - a one-hit-wonder author who is suffering from a decade-long case of writer's block. One day the owner of the main house falls into the hands of his son who has been living in America. The son, Simon, his brother, Neil, and their mother come to take care of the property. The family knows Cassandra's father's writing and they take the family under their wing. The love lives of Rose and Cassandra are central to the book, as any journal of a 17 year old girl should be. The characters are fun and the plot moves along. All in all I really liked it and it's a book that screams to be reread. The only thing is that I think I would have enjoyed it more in high school or my early 20s. It's a bit over-emotional for my stage in life. ( )
  japaul22 | Jun 8, 2014 |
Although I usually find books about transition to adulthood annoying, this one captured me. A family is living on the last remnants of the value of their possessions in an old house adjacent to a much older castle. Father is a once-famous writer who has gotten a serious case of writer's block; the nearby gracious house belonging to the landlord is inherited by young American man and so presents a Jane Austen-style escape from poverty, if only it would work that way.

The story is told as journal entries written by the second daughter, Cassandra, and the portrayal of the family, the house, the Americans, all delight. Cassandra herself is not the only one to grow up during the course of the narrative, but she is the only voice we hear. Not that she seems an unreliable narrator. The Austen thread will be pretty obvious to those who know that kind of romantic story, but it's most satisfying.

It did take a little time for me to adjust to the setting - 1948 England - and the idea that even with that, the family is more than stuck in an earlier age. But taking that on faith proved easy. 4 stars, maybe a little more.
1 vote ffortsa | Apr 29, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 202 (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 (19 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
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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:51 -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 10 descriptions

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