I Capture the Castle by Dodie SmithThrough six turbulent months of 1934, 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain keeps a journal, filling three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries about her home, a ruined Suffolk castle, and her eccentric and penniless family. By the time the last diary shuts, there have been great changes in the Mortmain household, not the least of which is that Cassandra is deeply, hopelessly, in love.
I Capture the Castle
D oes a teenage narrator make a book teenage fiction, unworthy of adult attention? I was a teenager - just about - when Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle was first published in , but did not come across it for 10 years or so, and I remember devouring it with a kind of guilt, feeling that one's tastes should be more highbrow. No such prudishness, rereading it decades later - just relish for a good story, flourishing characters, and the most persuasive narrative voice. This is a clever book, beneath the surface simplicity; infinite guile goes into that apparently innocent flow. A bald description would make you wince. Decaying castle houses impoverished family consisting of year-old diarist Cassandra, her ravishing year-old sister Rose, small brother, ex-artist's model stepmother called Topaz, and given to wandering around naked in the rain , father who is a blocked writer, and resident factotum - a youthful male hunk. Unexpected arrival of the landlords, rich American brothers who have inherited the neighbouring stately home, sends Rose into a fever of husband-hunting.
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I Capture the Castle is the first novel by the British author Dodie Smith , written during the Second World War when she and her husband Alec Beesley also British and a conscientious objector were living in California. She longed for home and wrote of a happier time, unspecified in the novel apart from a reference to living in the s. Smith was already an established playwright and later became famous for writing the children's classic The Hundred and One Dalmatians. The novel relates the adventures of an eccentric family, the Mortmains, struggling to live in genteel poverty in a decaying castle during the s. The first person narrator is Cassandra Mortmain, an intelligent teenager who tells the story through her journal. It is a coming-of-age story in which Cassandra passes from being a girl at the beginning to being a young woman at the end.