I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle

Book - 1998
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n
norma777
Mar 15, 2020

À charming story of an eccentric family living in extreme poverty in a run down castle. The arrival of 2 brothers from the USA changes life for their family. Jane Austen fans will like this. Several interesting characters have strong story lines with unexpected twists and turns. A lovely light read.

d
darladoodles
Nov 01, 2019

View life in a crumbling castle through the eyes of 17-year-old Cassandra. She is writing in her journal to improve her writing skills. Meanwhile her family goes through some drastic changes after meeting the Americans who move in next door. This classic tale brings to mind Pride & Prejudice, but also has a early 20th century feel to it with automobiles and gramophones. At times heartwarming and at others heartbreaking. You can't read this book without falling in love with our dauntless narrator.

DBRL_KrisA Aug 17, 2019

First published in 1948, but the book is written in such good, plain, non-affected English that I assumed it to have been written just a few years ago. Enjoyable characters - Mortmain, Topaz, Leda Fox-Cotton, the Vicar. Reference is made in the book to Jane Austen, and this is so very much a Jane Austen type book, with added elements of Downton Abbey, and a little Agatha Christie - not the mystery part, but just the small-English-village part.

Thing I learned after reading this book: Dodie Smith was the author of, among other things, the children's story that Disney's 101 Dalmatians is based on.

IndyPL_SteveB May 21, 2019

A wonderful novel with a charming narrator. One of those fascinating surprises that you run into; I am most pleased because I’ve never read anything else like it.

In 1932, 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain’s family lives in a house built on the side of a partially collapsed English castle. Her father was once a famous author but hasn’t written anything in years and now has no income. The family is in near desperate poverty, only making ends meet with the help of a live-in teen handyman that they took in when his mother died. Cassandra’s beautiful older sister Rose is desperate to marry someone and escape the castle’s poverty; so when Simon, the young man who has inherited the manor house of the family which owns the castle, shows up to see the property, Rose and Cassandra plot to get Simon to marry Rose.

The most remarkable thing about the book is watching this entire story through the eyes of Cassandra as she writes it all in her journal. The telling lets us see into the thoughts of a real person, as she firmly makes statements on life, then sees that they are naïve, then proceeds to upgrade her statements into slightly more mature – but equally wrong-headed – philosophical declarations. The writing is lyrical and enthusiastic and emotional; but always super descriptive, so you really know the people around her and the locations in which they live. The title is not about war; it is her attempt to “capture” the life and appearance of the castle *in words* in her journal.

j
jeffreyochsner
Apr 14, 2019

I heard that this book would appeal to fans of Downton Abbey, so I decided to give it a try. This book is written in the first person from the perspective of teenaged Cassandra, who keeps a journal. As the book opens, Cassandra and her rather eccentric family are living in poverty in a decaying castle rented from the owner of the nearby estate. The estate owner has died recently, and the estate is inherited by a fairly distant young American relative who never expected to inherit, but the relatives with priority all died (yes, that did remind me of Downton Abbey). The new owner and his family (including mother and brother) come to see their new estate. There are various story lines involving romance and some intrigue.

I Capture the Castle was originally published in 1948. I thought this book started a bit slowly, but I stuck with it, and I did enjoy it.

a
angievigilante
Mar 19, 2019

I adore this book. I think about it all the time. This book is magic and I never wanted it to end. It's about an eccentric family that is educated and cultured but also completely free spirited. The point of view is a young woman who loves to journal. It's brilliant and touching, and it outlines class/poverty struggles and a glimpse of what women's issues were going on during that era (1930's England). American and British culture is also explored and documented in a fascinating way.

SPPL_Kristen Mar 21, 2018

Cassandra was such an important character to my teen self in ways I couldn't possibly articulate in such a small comment box. But I'm so excited that this book has endured for so many years and so many other young girls can feel the same connection.

b
brangwinn
Oct 24, 2017

As I started reading I saw similarities to Cold Comfort Farm. There’s no mad woman in the attic, but there is a father, a famous author, who has no idea what his three children are doing. There’s no income, the kids seem to be the adults while the famous author hides in his castle room. But then the new owner of the estate from whom the castle is rented comes from America, bringing romance to the teen-aged daughters. It’s an entertaining story, with opportunities for plenty of chuckles.

s
SusannahWhite
Aug 26, 2017

Lovely lovely lovely book. Intelligent, touching, and perceptive, with one of literature's most amusing narrators and narratives--most understandably a classic.

k
kwsmith
Apr 30, 2017

This wonderful classic coming-of-age romance novel centers around two young sisters and three attractive young men. The two English sisters are living with their poor family in a crumbling old castle when a pair of rich American brothers arrive on the scene. This is a delightful romantic comedy brimming with sly British humor and deliberately silly characters. In many ways, Dodie's writing style echoes of Jane Austen's distinctive influence.

ArapahoeKati Dec 29, 2016

I adore this novel, so much so that I read it almost every year. Cassandra is the inner young woman in all of us with many of the same insecurities and dreams for the future. It's a story you won't soon forget. You'll be charmed!

r
rationallady
Nov 30, 2015

It reminded me of Jane Austen's books. The style of writing about young love in 1948 and the early 1800's is quite similar. Now I'll watch the movie based on the book.

c
cbyer
Sep 27, 2015

I read this for the first time when I was 12. I still remember quite clearly how I loved it. Have re-read since and still think it charming. Charming is the best word for this book.

n
No_Stalkers4Me
Oct 15, 2014

Charming and enchanting. Anne of Green Gables with a splash of cynicism. Worth reading.

g
GLNovak
Apr 16, 2014

Cassandra is seventeen and although living in abject poverty in a crumbling castle with no income of any obvious kind, other than the pittance that Stephen brings in, is seemingly loving her life. I read somewhere that it was in the same vein as Glass Castles by Jeanette Wall, and in some ways it is. This is completely fiction set in rural southern England in the 1940's while Wall's is her biography of growing up in the Virginia Appalatian Mts of the 1960's. I found the fiction narrative to be a little too cute and bubbly for my taste but that could be the result of the time period of the writing. Certainly all ends well in both. They are uplifing stories of hardship not dampening the spirit or holding back ambition. A little too sweetly amazing for me to give a higher rating.

r
robandbarbw
Dec 22, 2013

I didn't find the narrator endearing, so I didn't enjoy the book.

b
blolo
Aug 15, 2013

This book has an absolutely lovable and endearing narrator (Cassandra). She's wonderful and the best part of the book. However, I found the storyline itself slow and dull. It did seem like it was "before its times" though, as it was written in the 1940s. I imagine that is part of the reason it was/is such a beloved book.

This book is perfect for anyone who loves historical fiction, especially those romantics out there! It has clever and witty characters, with enough plot twists to keep you guessing! Definitely a great read!

l
lexikeeler
Jul 27, 2012

Terrific voice from the first line when Cassandra is sitting in the sink to the last line. Charming.

k
kellymasegian
Jul 09, 2012

I can't point to anything particularly wrong with this book (although I was disappointed with the ending). However, it just didn't grab me. I found the narrator to be annoying in her misery rather than "dynamic" as the book reviews shared. Not terrible, but I was non-plussed.

j
jandocr
Oct 19, 2011

Great read! Definitely recommend. The character Cassandra makes such a great narrator. When I read in the comments below that this book was written in the 30s, I could not believe it! It does not have that history old-language feel at all. A nice twist at the end too - did not see that coming! I also thoroughly enjoyed the love connections between the characters in the book.

r
Rhonwen
Aug 28, 2011

What a delight! I find it hard to believe that this book was ever allowed to be out of print. Luckily there are no castles here or I might be tempted to go for a moonlight swim in a chilly moat with a pair of tempermental swans.

z
Zoomerofall
Aug 18, 2011

I have loved this book since I first read it when I was 16. I re-read it every few years. Utterly charming.

c
cassiesea
Aug 07, 2011

Just about my favorite book of all time. It's a deliciously old-fashioned, beautifully written coming-of-age story. And totally appeals to the incurable romantic, anglophile in me. And extra bonus...it's got the BEST first sentence of any book I've ever read! :)

cjperry Apr 17, 2011

I cannot believe this book was written in the thirties. It is so modern-feeling. Clever and fast-moving, especially for such a long book. My only complaint is that some of the incidents wrap up too quickly and too neatly. Life isn't that easy.


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