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I Capture the Castle Paperback – March 15, 1999
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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
“This book has one of the most charismatic narrators I've ever met. Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain captures the castle in her insightful, witty journal entries.” ―Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling
“What a lovely book is I Capture the Castle. It's as fresh as if it were written this morning, and as classic as Jane Austen. I'm very happy to have met it.” ―Donald E. Westlake
“A delicious, compulsively readable novel about young love and its vicissitudes. What fun!” ―Erica Jong
“Dreamy and funny . . . an odd, shimmering timelessness clings to its pages. A thousand and one cheers for its reissue. A+” ―Entertainment Weekly
“I Capture the Castle is finally back in print. It should be welcomed with a bouquet of roses and a brass band. Ever since I was handed a tattered copy years ago with the recommendation 'You'll love it,' it has been one of my favorite novels.” ―Susan Isaacs
“It is an occasion worth celebrating when a sparkling novel, a work of wit, irony, and feeling is brought back into print after an absence of many years. So uncork the champagne for I Capture the Castle.” ―Los Angeles Times
Top customer reviews
Seventeen/eighteen year old Cassandra tells her story through her journals.
The younger daughter of an eccentric family living in poverty in a crumbling English castle she relates her observations and feelings in such touching and outright hilarious prose I would be very surprised if this book didn't hit a nerve with anyone who read it.
Life is hard ......the rent is unpaid......the food is meagre .......the clothes are shoddy but there is happiness and a sense of adventure.
Enter the Cottons from America, who are very wealthy and not only own the crumbling castle but also the mansion "next door".
Life changes for everyone. The Father who has writers block......the wife, Topaz who fears she will lose her husband to the Cotton matriarch....the sister, Rose who wants to marry into this family for love or otherwise as she can no longer stomach the poverty, Stephen, the long suffering and lovelorn son of their former maid.
The plot has well and truly been described in former reviews so I will go no further except to say if you want a charming and very amusing read you cannot go past I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.
I will definitely recommend this book to lovers of romance who like depth of plot with wonderful wonderful characters.
Told from the first-person observations of Cassandra, the 17-year-old daughter of a once-successful, now-failed author with a serious case of writer's block, we get an up-close glimpse of a family in near financial ruin who are living in a rundown castle in England, the father having taken a 40-year lease on it during more successful times.
The family consists of Cassandra, her older sister Rose, her younger brother Thomas, her stepmother Topaz and her father Mortmain. A de facto member of the family is Stephen, son of the now-dead cook who works earnestly and loyally for the family and who cannot hide his love for Cassandra, although she wishes he would.
Soon enough, American brothers Simon and Neil Cotton arrive in town. Owners of the nearby Scoatney castle, they also own the castle where Cassandra and her family live.
Cassandra learns much about life, love, honesty and kindness when Simon begins courting Rose and Rose accepts his offer of marriage. But, it's headed for disaster, especially when it's really Cassandra who loves Simon with all her heart.
If you enjoy coming of age stories, character studies, and literate, intelligent prose, you will love I Capture the Castle. Highly recommended.
The book is wonderful and definitely deserves the five stars I've given but the abridged version on CD only gives a small taste of it. I do NOT recommend the audio CD at all, so much of the book's imaginative narration is cut out, as are a few minor characters. Unfortunately, Emilia Fox doesn't give the right tone to the CD, her inflection just doesn't jive with the way the book actually reads. Also, her imitation American accent (for a few necessary characters) is distracting to this American listener, though maybe Brits wouldn't be able to tell that it's off. I'd give 2 stars for the audio CD but don't want to ruin the rating of the book.
Most recent customer reviews
This was once (1948 is the publication date) an adult best-seller, but now it would be classified asa Young Adult Novel – sex is hinted at only...Read more