Sunday, August 2, 2009

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith
343 pages
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.

12 comments:

  1. Yeah, Colin Firth is really yummy! :)
    This book sounds good, I also read about it from Goodreads a while ago.

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  2. I have still been thinking about this book. At the same time that I liked the diary format, I wonder if it limited the depth of the story. I didn't know that about interesting fact about the availability of the book in the US. I do think I will add Smith's dalmation book to my tbr list. p.s. I love the James quote in the sidebar.

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  3. I felt the same when I finished this one a few years back so you are definitely not alone in your opinion of it.

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  4. I am glad to hear that you didn't enjoy this book so much! I didn't either and truthfully didn't finish it. I'm like you, just couldn't relate to any of the characters.

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  5. I agree; it's really fun to find other reviewers who think as you do! It feels so validating!

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  6. I loved this book when I read it a few years ago. Maybe I should read it again!

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  7. I read this a few years ago and recall that I liked it but didn't love it as most others do. I did like Cassandra's character but found many of the others a bit annoying.

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  8. Yeah, I suppose that as far as jobs go, I'm quite lucky! I really only do 3 or 4 hours of work a day... Sometimes I hate that because I get bored, but at least it's not high-stress!

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  9. This is one of my favorite books but I know plenty of people who are not as fond of it as I am. Dodie Smith actually has a few more novels that were written for an adult audience. I plan to read some of them next year. They are out of print and difficult to find but that is why I love my library so much! :-)

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  10. I dead this one a while ago and loved it.

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  11. I had this book a while, but have never gotten to it. So many have loved it!

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  12. One of my favorites. It has been some time since I read it, but I love the mild illusions to Northanger Abbey. I was glad to see that it was re-issued again.

    Thanks for the great review.

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