Number six on my 2016 reading record is “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith.
- There are some books which I can describe only by the word delightful. One of these is “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Another is “The Enchanted April” by early twentieth century writer Elizabeth von Arnim. I have now found a third, “I Capture the Castle”. But perhaps I can add a few more adjectives…. quirky, enchanting,definitely rereadable, absolutely must-ownable.
- Narrated by seventeen year-old Cassandra Mortmain, set in the i930’s, it tells the story, through Cassandra’s diary, of a five month period in which she falls in love, suffers heartbreak, and starts to grow up. It is amusing, witty, and ends on a hopeful note.
- Cassandra’s father wrote a bestseller and hasn’t written anything since. When they had money he bought a tumble-down house attached to the ruins of a castle and did a few renovations. Now he goes to a tower attached to the castle each day and writes nothing. They sell all the good furniture and books to get by. Father is eccentric, the step-mother is a former artist’s model who communes with nature wearing only hip-boots,and the whole family is effortlessly bohemian. When a rich American family moves to the area, what better idea than to marry older sister, Rose, to one the brothers.
- The plot is reminiscent of Jane Austen. Actually, Smith has filled the book with allusions to literary and artistic characters- Shakespeare, Shelley, De Bussey, Reynolds and many more.
- The book was made into a fantastic movie in 2003. Romola Garai, Bill Nighy and Tara Fitzgerald will remain for me,always, Cassandra, Father and step-mother Topaz.
- An interesting point- Dodie Smith also wrote “The Hundred and One Dalmatians”.