I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle

Book - 2003?
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Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain wants to become a writer. Trouble is, she's the daughter of a once-famous author with a severe case of writer's block. Her family--beautiful sister Rose, brooding father James, ethereal stepmother Topaz--is barely scraping by in a crumbling English castle they leased when times were good. Now there's very little furniture, hardly any food, and just a few pages of notebook paper left to write on. Bravely making the best of things, Cassandra gets hold of a journal and begins her literary apprenticeship by refusing to face the facts. Rose longs for suitors and new tea dresses while Cassandra scorns romance. But romantic isolation comes to an end both for the family and for Cassandra's heart when the wealthy, adventurous Cotton family takes over the nearby estate.
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Griffin, [2003?], ©1976
ISBN: 9780312316167
031231616X
9780312201654
Branch Call Number: FICTION Smi
Description: 343 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm

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Selection for 11/7/2019

Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain wants to become a writer. Trouble is, she's the daughter of a once-famous author with a severe case of writer's block.

Cassandra and her family live in a crumbling, moldy castle in the English countryside, where she decides to keep a record of their daily life in order to hone her writing skills. When two American brothers move into the neighborhood, Cassandra's writing and her life suddenly take a turn for the ... Read More »

Seventeen-year-old Cassandra keeps a journal filled with the happenings of her family, their castle home, and encounters with the outside world which will change everything.


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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!

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SPL_STARR Jun 16, 2015

"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink."

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