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I Capture the Castle Paperback – April 1, 2003
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“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
About the Author
Dorothy Gladys "Dodie" Smith, was born in 1896 in Lancashire, England, and she was one of the most successful female dramatists of her generation. She wrote "Autumn", "Crocus", and "Dear Octopus", among other plays, but her first novel, I Capture the Castle (Little Brown, 1948) was written when she lived in America during the '40s and marked her crossover debut from playwright to novelist. the novel became an immediate success and was produced as a play in 1954. Her other novels were The Town in Bloom, It Ends with Revelations, A Tale of Two Families, and The Girl in the Candle-Lit Bath. Today, however, she is best known for her stories for young readers, The Hundred and One Dalmations (Heinemann, 1956) and The Starlight Barking (Heinemann, 1967; Simon & Schuster, 1968). The Hundred and One Dalmations was inspired by Dodie's own Dalmation named Pongo, and became the basis of two Disney films. The Starlight Barking is also available in paperback from St. Martin's press. Dodie Smith died in 1990.
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Her father's mysteriousness kept me as interested in him as she was; just as all of the characters wondered, I found myself constantly wondering "Is he genius? Is he crazy? Is he good? Bad?"
Every character, for that matter, was complex and multidimensional. There were no stereotypes, no cliches - just complicated, real people who I loved getting to know.
I really enjoyed the diary format - there were moments I felt like she stole my own thoughts. She's probably my all-time favorite character actually - so much depth, charisma, and joy.
As for the romance, I loved all of it - I enjoyed the interaction between Cassandra & Stephen, how tense & confusing it was. It was so interesting to see how everything played out ... the way, at first, to Cassandra, Simon was just an awkward-looking man in a beard and then, he quickly becomes so much more to the entire family, changing their lives - in a way they had literally sat around hoping for just moments before.
Smith's writing is flawless & beautiful. It flows so well. I could envision everything so vividly. It played like a movie in my mind.
Be sure to read it! I wish I'd read it years ago
I thought this was a beautifully written book. Dodie Smith does a fantastic job of letting Cassandra’s thoughts and feelings flow onto the paper. We see Cassandra’s growth throughout the book as she progresses through the six-penny journal to the shilling journal and finally to the two-guinea journal as she records her thoughts. We share her hopes and dreams, and happy and sad memories as she tries to navigate growing up in a family struggling to survive, yet endeavoring to live a normal life. Cassandra seems to be the practical one of the family as she tries to help her father write again, schemes with Rose to find a husband, and struggles with Stephen’s feelings for her, as well as her growing feelings for another. It is both a humorous and poignant portrayal of a young girl finding her way in the world, as she also helps and cares for those around her. The novel also examines the English class system and compares English versus American traditions.
The story is entirely set in England but it's also got a few American characters. That adds an additional element of interest for American readers with English ties, or vice versa. There is one stretch that's a bit melodramatic (meloromatic?) for my taste, but it's an important element that ultimately works well. If you find yourself struggling to maintain interest through that section just push through and know that it's not interminable.
I find myself reading many more novels by male authors than female, but I found this female voice, both the author's and the protagonist's, to be a refreshing change of pace. I'm not saying this is a 5-star read, but I do think it is very good.