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I Capture the Castle (1948)

by Dodie Smith

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,518285799 (4.11)1 / 722
A novel of an eccentric and impoverished English family whose home is a ruined 14th century castle. The story is presented in the form of a diary by the family's teen daughter.
  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. 131
    Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster (mybookshelf)
    mybookshelf: Both are classic stories about unusual young women who enjoy writing.
  4. 100
    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. 60
    The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice (khuggard)
  7. 30
    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.
  8. 30
    The Town in Bloom by Dodie Smith (KayCliff)
  9. 30
    The Keeping Days by Norma Johnston (atimco)
    atimco: Similar narrative voice, wry and funny and believable.
  10. 20
    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)
  11. 10
    The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz (charl08)
    charl08: Both feature strong teenage characters dealing with first romance, family and growing up.
  12. 10
    Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett (charl08)
    charl08: Both narrated by youthful, naive but entertaining protagonists.
  13. 10
    Guard Your Daughters by Diana Tutton (KayCliff)
  14. 21
    Seacrow Island by Astrid Lindgren (starbox)
  15. 10
    The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford (souloftherose)
  16. 21
    The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West (DieFledermaus)
  17. 00
    Something Light by Margery Sharp (quartzite)
  18. 11
    Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt (nessreader)
    nessreader: Melancholic atmospheric coming of age books about introspective girls
  19. 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.
  20. 00
    The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob (charl08)
    charl08: Both novels include a young female protagonist who is charismatic, surrounded by interesting characters and loving books. And both are funny.

(see all 21 recommendations)

1940s (11)
Teens (2)

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» See also 722 mentions

English (279)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (281)
Showing 1-5 of 279 (next | show all)
Dodie Smith gave us 101 Dalmations. Who knew? I had only ever heard of her in reference to this work, but I’m guessing Cruella DeVille was her masterpiece character.

Anyway, this review is about I Capture the Castle, written in the form of seventeen year old Cassandra Mortmain’s diary. It is cute, light-hearted and completely predictable. When I read books such as this one, I always wonder if my younger self would have been enchanted, if she would have been thrilled by the idea of the castle and its avant garde inhabitants. Might be a book that requires finding at just the right moment in life to be loved. Not loved, but liked, for me, so 3-stars.
( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
I really don't get why so many people love this book so much.... I see other reviewers comparing it to Anne of Green Gables and Jane Austen and it is nothing like either of them. It is the diary of Cassandra, a teenage girl living with her older sister, younger brother, mercurial starving-artist father, and eccentric starving-artist stepmother. They are a loving family, although the father is emotionally distant and a little scary, and the children are basically left to their own devices. They rent a crumbling castle. The castle is inherited by new owners, two dashing young brothers, who come to visit and naturally it's a romance so you know where things go from there.

Cassandra describes everything in excruciating detail, so the book moves very slowly. The pace picks up in the second half, although by then it feels like Cassandra is bored of writing everything in her journal so while inconsequential events in the first half get long, detailed descriptions, the monumental events of the second half go by in a blur. I guess that in some ways that shows character growth or something, but it makes for tedious reading. ( )
  Gwendydd | Apr 24, 2022 |
A really lovely book, that I never would have read had it not been a book club suggestion. It’s funny and moving and sweet without ever being cloying. Cassandra is a wonderful narrator and I suspect I’ll be hearing her voice for some time to come. ( )
  whatmeworry | Apr 9, 2022 |
A little gem. ( )
  Neilatkallaroo | Apr 7, 2022 |
I love this book! It reminds me a lot of Anne of Green Gables, albeit a more modern, mid-20th century version. The main character Cassandra loves nature and literature; she has a kind heart and sees the best in people; she's a fierce romantic but she is also makes shrewd, sensible observations on things. The book is presented as Cassandra's journal, and her observations and musings are so delightful to read that the plot actually don't matter as much for me. Cassandra's family of 5 (or 6, depending on whether you count the orphaned servant) live in poverty in a run-down castle that they haven't paid the rent of for the past 3 years. They lack in all material things; actually I think they are starving. Then two rich, young gentlemen became their neighbor, and they became friends with Cassandra and Cassandra's beautiful older sister. It sounds like a good setup for romance between the gentlemen and the two sisters, but the book is actually less about romance and more about Cassandra developing a deeper understanding of life. Throughout the book Cassandra experienced beauty of nature, music, and material things, imagined a lot, asked questions about love and life, enjoyed improvement in her material living conditions, understood her father a little better, and had a taste of what it means to be in love. ( )
  CathyChou | Mar 11, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 279 (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 (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dodie Smithprimary authorall editionscalculated
Agutter, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fox, EmiliaNarratorsecondary 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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A novel of an eccentric and impoverished English family whose home is a ruined 14th century castle. The story is presented in the form of a diary by the family's teen daughter.

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Book description
"I write this sitting the the kitchen sink" begins Cassandra Mortmain's diary, recording family life in a ruinous castle.  Father is a famous, irascible author suffering from prolonged writer's block.  Elder daughter, beautiful Rose, is exasperated by their impoverished life, while son Thomas, rather oblivious, is still at school.  They are all looked after (in her own way) by their young bohemian stepmother.  And then the American heirs to the castle turn up, an energetic mother and two eligible sons...
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Average: (4.11)
0.5 3
1 22
1.5 3
2 73
2.5 27
3 336
3.5 121
4 766
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