Friday, December 9, 2011

I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith

Summary:  I Capture the Castle tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle.  Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills.  She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries.  Her journals candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle's walls, and her own first descent into love.  By the time she pens her final entry, she has "captured the castle"--and the heart of the reader--in one of literature's most enchanting entertainments.  (Summary from back of the book and image from

My Review:  I think half of what makes this story so fascinating is the setting: England, the 1930's, and a decaying castle.  The other half is Cassandra.  For a seventeen year old, she seemed both mature beyond her years and innocent compared to any seventeen year old I've ever known.  It was oh so refreshing!  She was such a fun narrator and had a unique outlook on her world.  Watching her grow through painful experiences wasn't actually painful because of the way she handled them and viewed/wrote them.
One of my favorite aspects of this story was Cassandra's relationship with sister Rose. It is much like mine and I don't often see that in literature. Because Cassandra and Rose were so different and spent so much of their formative years together, they didn't quarrel much, but loved each other unconditionally. There were times of disagreement, but the girls couldn't help but go back to loving each other. I just love this portrayal of sisters because it's how I believe sisters should really be. Not back-biting, competitive, spiteful, and mean.

I know some are wondering why the lower rating.  Honestly, it wasn't a book I couldn't put down.  I try to leave a 5 star rating for the books I consume whole.  This book, while a great read, with wonderful characters, setting, plot, simply wasn't one that I had to stay up to finish.  In fact, the beginning of the book was rather slow going for me.  It definitely picked up and engaged me, but again I didn't kill me when I had to walk away and do someting else. 

I don't think my middle school students could appreciate this book (with a few exceptions), but any high school student or adult would probably find the book both engaging and satisfying.

Sidenote: I think it's also fun to know that Dodie Smith wrote 101 Dalmatians. Not that it really matters, but it's still an interesting tidbit.

My Rating: 4 stars

For the sensitive reader: Nothing to offend here. Feel free to start reading asap.
Sum it up: Journal writing at its best from a teen you wouldn't mind meeting.

1 comment:

Anne Bennion said...

Loved this book! Description was wonderful. Characters were realistic. So good!!


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