I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

Originality ♥♥♥♥
Quality of Writing ♥♥♥♥♥
Plot ♥♥♥♥♥
Setting ♥♥♥♥
Character ♥♥♥♥♥
Overall ♥♥♥♥♥

“What is it about the English country-side – why is the beauty so much more than visual? Why does it touch one so?”

Rarely do I get a chance nowadays to get the pleasure of reading such a satisfying piece of literature. It had been on my mental reading list for such a long t
ime – and to say I am brilliantly happy for finally buying a copy is an understatement.

I Capture the Castle (applause for best title ever) is a detailed journal written by our seventeen year old protagonist, Cassandra Mortmain. As the title suggests, Cassandra captures in words the day-to-day goings on of her life and her eccentric family in the old, crumbling castle in which they live. Cass’s father is an infuriating introvert, violent at times and is described as a pained writer whose muse is yet to resurface – as such, his family are being drawn deeper into poverty which is a central theme in this story. Cass’s step-mother, a model whose charms and beauty are fading under her husband’s dark lifestyle, does everything in her power to support her family – it is hard to not love her. There is beautiful Rose, the most Jane Austen-esque character who would marry the devil to escape her poverty (so she says!). And finally, we have Stephen, handsome but depicted as lower class, he copies out poems and gives them to Cassandra who finds it hard to tell him that she will never love him.

With all great novels comes the imminent change that will stir the routine of the characters and their sleepy, bored lives. The American heirs of a nearby estate (and owners of the castle) arrive and romance blossoms with the tantalising scent of a possible love triangle – the two American brothers quickly capture the hearts of our young Mortmain daughters. Rose attaches herself to the eldest, Simon Cotton, in the hope that marrying him will pull her out of poverty – but of course she is to learn eventually that having money is not the answer to being happy.

Dodie Smith’s writing is poetic without being forced, and she often delivers wonderful lines through the voice and language of her characters. She evokes of a feeling of love for both the English countryside and 1930s London, using the two locations as a blurring line between childhood and growing up. Home is the Castle, but London in its most glamourous vision represents the wealth that the Mortmain daughters strive to gain. In this way, you can’t help but remember Jane Austen’s own novels with the same themes and try to compare the two writers, but I Capture the Castle is a real beauty in its own stunning way.

5 stars. 


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