books / writing

Book Review-I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

This is one of those books that I really don’t remember how I heard about it, but I know I did before I watched the movie (it has Henry Cavill in it, okay? I had to see it). The movie is good, but the book is better (surprise, surprise).

blurb from goodreads:

I Capture the Castle tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills. She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries. Her journals candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle’s walls, and her own first descent into love. By the time she pens her final entry, she has “captured the castle”– and the heart of the reader– in one of literature’s most enchanting entertainments.

I started this book ages ago and then put it away because it wasn’t connecting. I loved the voice of our narrator even then, but I just wasn’t in the mood for this type of novel (or the age of it. It required more brainpower than something more modern). I picked it up again last month and devoured it. It is delightful, which is kind of a lame adjective, but there’s not other way to describe how enjoyable it is to ‘listen’ to Cassandra relate the events in her life. She is smart, but makes mistakes, often naive, but starts to recognize her power as a woman. Her descriptions of characters, places and events are delightful (can’t help it) to read. Her ‘coming of age’ is not typical or unoriginal like other books of that genre. The ending itself is not what I expected, but it didn’t matter. It was perfect.

The castle itself, her odd family (her brother totally captures my heart by the last section), the setting is just as absorbing as Cassandra herself. Who doesn’t want to live in a castle, even one falling apart? Their poverty is abject, but when their fortune changes, Cassandra sees how even money can’t fix things, and often simple is better.

There are more lessons and universal truths in this book than just the love story that teaches our protagonist to grow up. It’s about family, sisters, love, society, youth and maturity, wealth and the lack of it…This book pretty much has everything and if you don’t like it, I’m not sure I can understand that. And I’m usually pretty understanding. 🙂

Also, you’ll probably need to go by a journal after reading this. Just a warning.

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