Amy Reads Books

I Capture The Castle

I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith I hadn't heard all that much about this novel until fairly recently, when suddenly all of the internet were talking about it as a hugely underrated novel, so I was really looking forward to reading it. The author, Dodie Smith, is perhaps best known nowadays for creating 101 Dalmatians, but this novel is really quite lovely.I Capture the Castle's real success hinges on Cassandra's voice; we learn the story through her journalling and had her character been uninteresting or unbelievable the novel would have totally fallen apart. However, Smith wonderfully captures the imagination of a 17-year-old girl, it's hard to believe that she was in her fifties when she wrote the novel. I also loved Cassandra as a character, she felt really true as she certainly didn't hide her flaws or her feelings towards other characters in the novel. The plot is really quite gentle, based around the arrival of the Cottons at nearby Scoatney Hall, the manor that owns the land where the Mortmain's live. In addition to the two young Americans; Simon (the heir) and Neil who provide a welcome diversion for Cassandra and older sister Rose; there is also their mother and the tale of their visits to Scoatney reminded me a little of the visits to Netherfield that take place in Pride & Prejudice. Despite the slow plot, Cassandra's vibrant personality means that the novel never really drags.As for the other characters that Cassandra writes about, there were characters I really liked and those that I really did not. I quite liked Topaz, Cassandra's stepmother who has to keep the family all together. Then Stephen, the Mortmain's quasi-servant who has more than a little crush on Cassandra is also really well painted (I can't quite believe he's played by Henry Cavill in the film). Simon and Neil also came across really interestingly, I enjoyed Cassandra's changing relationship with the pair of them-although I can't really get into what I disliked about them without really spoiling the plot for people. On the other hand, I seriously disliked Cassandra's father and Rose. The former, I felt, was borderline abusive towards his family at times and seemed totally unbothered by the fact that his family had no money largely because he had not written anything in years-only coming alive when there are people around who believe him to be brilliant. As for Rose, although I felt for her position, she just came across as cold and ultimately rather manipulative of those around her-Cassandra was certainly more charitable in her portrayal of her older sister than I'm sure I would have been!I did have some problems with the book, but as I alluded to earlier, I cannot really go into them for fear of ruining the book for those who are yet to read it. Overall, I Capture the Castle is really a heartwarming book-almost requiring a cup of tea to be drunk while reading it-which would make a great entrance into the classics realm for teenagers or even younger readers.