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I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
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I Capture the Castle (original 1948; edition 2006)

by Dodie Smith

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,381259758 (4.13)664
Member:LordJohnson
Title:I Capture the Castle
Authors:Dodie Smith
Info:The Folio Society (2006), Hardcover, 335 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
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Work details

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (1948)

  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. 121
    Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster (mybookshelf)
    mybookshelf: Both are classic stories about unusual young women who enjoy writing.
  4. 90
    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 Town in Bloom by Dodie Smith (KayCliff)
  8. 30
    The Keeping Days by Norma Johnston (atimco)
    atimco: Similar narrative voice, wry and funny and believable.
  9. 20
    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.
  10. 10
    Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett (charl08)
    charl08: Both narrated by youthful, naive but entertaining protagonists.
  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
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  13. 10
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  14. 21
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  15. 21
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  16. 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.
  17. 00
    Speaking from Among the Bones: A Flavia de Luce Novel 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)
  18. 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.
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    Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen (TomWaitsTables)
1940s (13)
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» See also 664 mentions

English (256)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (259)
Showing 1-5 of 256 (next | show all)
This is a very sweet and charming book. The Mortmain family are poor, eccentric and live in a crumbling castle. Their life changes when some rich Americans become their neighbours. It's a nicely observed and engaging read. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Jun 2, 2019 |
http://tinyurl.com/y65sotsh

I feel deficient because I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would. Like, I've been kicked out of the Jane Austen Fan Club because of it.

It was a slog for me. If I try to pin that down, I think it's because I wasn't expecting a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice - which it isn't in many ways but this is obviously the tale that inspires it - especially one set after World War I with vastly different mores and social settings, and an odd interplay between the British and the Americans in the tale.

I kept struggling to pick it up and read more. The castle in question is very romantic - dark and spooky and dank and lacking in furniture... On second thought, I think the castle never seemed romantic, it seemed horrible. Was it supposed to be both?? I remain confused on this subject, and think it's an important point because Americans are likely to think - "Ooh, abandoned castle, sounds like a fun adventure!" - way more than the British will. Americans will be conflicted, as a result, while the British can squarely place this novel in its rightful place - as a discussion of the changing role of women, how family dynamics changed over the decades, and what a successful life looked like in the 1930s vs. in the 1800s.

Also, I didn't like anyone in the book. Except maybe the poor stepmother, but even she exhibits some behaviors that were... unsettling. And I don't just mean the naked meanderings on the castle grounds. ( )
  khage | May 29, 2019 |
https://kyrosmagica.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/my-kyrosmagica-review-of-i-capture-...

This is a very charming coming of age story, expressed via the journal entries of the young would be writer Cassandra Mortmain. The opening sentences introduce the reader to the eccentric and quirky tone of the novel beautifully:

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining board, which I have padded with our dog’s blanket and the tea-cosy.

Cassandra’s family is about as bohemian as it gets. After an unfortunate incident her father, an author, has spent time in prison. Now released he wishes to distance himself from any further alterations with neighbours by living in relative solitude in a castle. He is now experiencing what appears to be a protracted case of writer’s block. Even his wife Topaz, (the children’s step mother) can’t inspire him with her ministrations, and naked jaunts communing with nature. With no income to sustain them, the family has no choice but to welcome any help they can get. At first, this comes in the form of the late housekeeper’s son Stephen, who happily hands over his wages, poor lad, as he is hopelessly in love with Cassandra. The arrival of two young eligible American bachelors, Simon and Neil offers hope to the family if only Cassandra’s elder sister Rose could perhaps convince the eldest brother Simon to marry her. Rose is desperate to escape poverty so is almost willing to do anything to change their material fortunes.

The close of I Capture The Castle doesn’t promise a happier ever after, or a neat and tidy ending which may disappoint some readers who expected this to be a romantic novel with the lovers walking off into the sunset hand in hand. This is perhaps partly due to the fact that this is a coming of age story and the romance contained within is experienced through the eyes of a very young girl. Young girls do get their hearts broken and suffer disappointments. Love can and does get complicated, and this is particularly true when we are still at an age when we are vulnerable and inexperienced. I Capture The Castle explores the resulting entanglements and jealousy beautifully. So, in my opinion, the ending is all the more poignant as it does suggest a more realistic and believable outcome.

Highly recommended for readers that appreciate character driven novels, and those who enjoy Young Adult Fiction, (with the young adult taking centre stage,) Historical Romance, and Classics.

My rating: A very enjoyable 4 stars. ( )
  marjorie.mallon | Mar 27, 2019 |
Sheer pleasure. ( )
  k6gst | Mar 12, 2019 |
I enjoyed this book. I had seen the PBS special and was interested to see how the book read.

I found it well written. ( well - maybe a bit too tidy and rushed at the end). The interplay of English society with American values, well to do, against the mis-lived miserably poor makes for interesting conflicts and resolutions among the characters. It's a romance but not a sickeningly sweet one.

I liked the ending.

I liked the overall feel or ambience of the novel, story line, scenery, setting.

Impressive for a first novel. ( )
  yhgail | Feb 20, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 256 (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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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.
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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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 15 descriptions

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