I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
This book was recommended to me by a fellow blogger (Bluebookbelle – A World Of Randomness). I have to say I am Sooo glad she did!
There are times in your life when something comes along and you just know it will stay with you for life. In book terms, I already have this in Gavin Maxwell’s Ring of Bright Water. I can honestly say now that in ‘I Capture the Castle’, I have this book too.
Right from the get go – the first line “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” And that first description of the weather, the gloom, the kitchen, the castle and the people in it and the mood at the time, sets you off on a page turning experience which is truly captivating.
Set in 1930’s England, Cassandra Mortmain lives with her bohemian and impoverished family in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. Her journal records her life with her beautiful, bored sister, Rose, her fadingly glamorous stepmother, Topaz, her little brother, Thomas, and her eccentric novelist father who suffers from writer’s block. However, all their lives are turned upside down when the American heirs to the castle arrive and Cassandra finds herself falling in love for the first time…
…only it’s not that simple as Cassandra fights with her own emotions. Being only 17, she is so confused at these ‘first feelings’ but at the same time she is aware of influences around her which beckon better times for her and the family. (‘Consciously naive’) At times, she isn’t quite sure what is happening to them, why it’s happening and how to deal with the impending changes. She constantly updates her journal to try and rationalize her feelings and those of Rose, Topaz, Stephen, the two Cotton brothers and of course her ever worrisome Father!
There are some lovely moments when she turns to her journal to describe her feelings and theories as well as lying in bed at night having conversations, to help her, with a dress-makers dummy she calls Miss Blossom. The descriptions of the castle and its interiors, exteriors and everyday moments transport you right there, with Cassandra, as she narrates her way through their lives. You really feel you know her so we’ll, right from the start.
Truly, a great read – I totally recommend it. 5 stars! And J. K Rowling is quoted saying “This book has one of the most charismatic narrators I’ve ever met.”
Ironically at the time I decided to buy the book, another friend of mine, who I’d mentioned it to, (and enthused rather dramatically about it – another recommendation!), suddenly thrust the 2003 DVD film adaptation into my hands! Now I’ve read the book, I can watch the film and give it back to her.
Mmm… I can feel a film review coming on… watch out for it soon. 🙂