Once upon a time there were two bookworms who wanted to read Classics. But they were afraid, a little intimidated and needed encouragement. So they joined forces and formed the Dust off your Classics challenge to support each other. Dee from Dee Read’s and myself read our way through some good classics, some great classics and found so much in these books that is surprisingly still relevant. So much so that I want to continue reading them and will continue to share my thoughts here on any I get through.
This time around I’m dusting off I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. It published in 1948 and JK Rowling describes Cassandra as “one of the most charismatic narrators I ever met”. Who could resist that glowing recommendation?
I Capture the Castle: A BBC Radio 4 Full-Cast Dramatisation by Dodie Smith
Published by Macmillan on January 1st 1948
Genres: Classic, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade
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Toby Jones and Holliday Grainger star in a new BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatization of Dodie Smith's enduringly popular coming-of-age novel.
In the 1930s, 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain lives in a crumbling ruin of a castle in the Suffolk countryside. Her father, an author wrestling with writer's block, spends his time reading detective stories; her bohemian stepmother Topaz is an artist's model; and her beautiful older sister Rose is determined to escape the poverty of their existence—ideally by marriage to a rich man.
Intelligent and observant, Cassandra chronicles the eccentricities of her relations in her journal, in a bid to capture her family and their lives at the castle. When two rich American brothers, Simon and Neil Cotton, arrive unexpectedly, the family's isolation is disrupted. Rose accepts a marriage proposal from Simon, and as she is whisked off to a world of wealth in London, Cassandra is left to deal with the increasingly bizarre behavior of her father—as well as her own feelings for Simon . . .
Five Thoughts on I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith:
- I loved the quintessentially Englishness of this charming, quiet book.
- The narrator is a 17-year-old girl who journals her family adventures about living in a castle, in 1930s England. But when I say adventures, that’s misleading as not a lot happens. And that was fine by me! Instead you get a character driven book, with lots of conversation that light up the pages with charm and whimsy.
- The whole family is eccentric and unique. I feel like I know them personally.
- I loved all the emotions that I felt; from the giddiness of first kiss, to the loyalty to family, to the worry about inviting guests for dinner but realising that they no longer have a dining room table, as they sold it to raise much-needed money. It was all so real, and quirky.
- I listened to the Audiobook which was a full cast dramatisation by the BBC. It was fab! I still want to read the book though, as there are so many quotes that I loved and would like to see visually.
Did I feel it?
Who should read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith?
I think it’s a timeless, fun story. Highly recommended, if you like the idea of a family-centred plot, about living in a crumbling English castle, narrated by an intriguing 17 year-old who is smart and witty.