I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith
Published 1948 by St. Martin's Press
The story of 17-year-old Cassandra and her family who live in a ramshackle English castle in a deep state of poverty. Cassandra chronicles her family's life in three journals as she hones her writing skills. Here she writes about her encounter's with the estates new, young and handsome American landlords, her sister Rose's marital ambitions, her father's writer's block, and her own dealings with first love.
This book has never been out of print in England and, when unavailable in American stores, it was one of the most requested books in used book stores. Clearly it is beloved. I picked it up because it came so highly recommended by members of Goodreads.
It is charming, it is often witty, and I did enjoy Cassandra's voice. But I'm sorry to say that I just didn't enjoy this one as much as I expected to, as much as I wanted to. I just found it so annoying that no one in Cassandra's family seemed to want to do anything to alleviate their financial straits. Even more annoying that they were willing to live off the wages of a "hired" boy who they weren't even paying then had working for another man. And they were all more than willing to accept the largesse of their new landlords. I didn't really connect to any of the characters, either because I liked or disliked them, and that made it hard for me to care what happened in the end. That said, the end did surprise me and I was happy with the way that Smith ended the book. I thought, as I was reading this book, that I might be the only person on the planet that wouldn't have rated this 5/5 stars. So I was excited this week to see that Book Psmith felt much the same way.
I Capture The Castle was Smith's first novel and marked her crossover from playwright and was an immediate success. It's often hard to top such a successful freshman effort but twelve years later Smith followed it up with "The Hundred and One Dalmations" which certainly eclipsed the fame of "I Capture The Castle" once Disney decided to base two movies on it.