Sunday, July 4, 2010

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith:   This is the journal of Cassandra Mortmain; an extraordinary account of life with her extraordinary family. First, there is her eccentric father. Then there is her sister, Rose - beautiful, vain and bored - and her stepmother, Topaz, an artist's model who likes to commune with nature. Finally, there is Stephen, dazzlingly handsome and hopelessly in love with Cassandra.
In the cold and crumbling castle which is their home, Cassandra records events with characteristic honesty, as she tries to come to terms with her own feelings. The result is both marvellously funny and genuinely moving.
Dorothy Gladys 'Dodie' Smith was born in 1896 in Lancashire and she was one of the most successful female dramatists of her generation. Her first novel, I Capture the Castle, was written when she lived in America during the 1940's and marked her crossover debut from playwright to novelist. The novel became an immediate success and was produced as a play in 1954. She has written numerous other novels but is best known today for The Hundred and One Dalmatians, a story for younger readers.
This is a coming of age story that made me feel 17 again. Thank goodness I'm not 17 anymore, but sometimes it's nice to remember what it was like: to remember the events that changed our view of the world. Cassandra is a lovely character and you can't help but relate to her. Her relationship with her sister and being the middle child are only two of the reasons I felt I could relate. I also remember what it is like to have someone in love with you, but try as you might you do not love them back in the same way.
I am very much in love with this book and am already wanting to reread it. Part of me wonders if I like this book so much because in the introduction, Valeria Grove, tells us that she was an English woman living in America who missed England terribly. I just know what that feels like. In the novel you can tell how much Smith is in love with England. I Capture the Castle is so beautifully written that even if you've never been to England, you will definitely think you have.
I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. I wish I had read this when I was a teenager. Definitely one I will be encouraging my daughters to read when they are teenagers, that is if they enjoy reading as much as I do!! I don't know what else to say of this book then to read it.

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