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.