Friday, September 7, 2012

Retro Friday Review: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Retro Friday is a meme hosted by Angie of Angieville and "focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc."
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Publisher: Various
Publication date: 1948
Pages: 343 (though it varies, obviously)
Source: Library
For: Fun!

Cassandra Mortmain's family is unusual, to say the least. They live in a tumble-down castle with little to no income. Her father, a writer with serious writer's block, and stepmother, a former painter's model, are unable even to pay the rent. But when the wealthy Cottons who own their castle come back home, Cassandra's sister Rose is determined to marry one of them and bring wealth to the family. And Cassandra is determined to capture all her family's mayhem in her journal.

Things I Liked:
Despite having a slow beginning, I truly fell in love with Cassandra.  About half-way through, I turned to the cover of my library copy and checked that the book was not non-fiction.  Cassandra felt so real to me that I began to think it was a memoir or an actual diary.  Her style of writing and especially how none of the story elements are neat and complete just made the whole thing so real.  I loved the stories - oh how fun to see her family through Cassandra's eyes: the eccentric father and the dramatic stepmother and Rose, who I don't think I ever figured out.  But Cassandra was the star of it all.  I truly enjoyed reading this book.

Things I Didn't Like:
It is a touch embarrassing to admit that I was kind of hoping for a neat and complete ending.  I rather wanted my Pride and Prejudice story where everything works out in the end.  I think that's often why I like some books, but why other books are more memorable.  The ones with neat endings feel satisfying and the ones without stay with you longer.  Also, sometimes I got bored.  Still, I really liked it.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Flavia de Luce mysteries by Alan Bradley (a bit)
Keeping The Castle by Patrice Kindl

s-factor: !
some mild ones occasionally

mrg-factor: X
nothing on page, just a bit of implied stuff

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ****

Anybody seen the film of this book?  Is it worth watching?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. This sounds interesting. Haven't read the book or seen the movie but now I'll have to :)

    1. It was quite a lot of fun, hope you get a chance to pick it up sometime.

  2. When I read the book I was OK with the ending because it left it open and we could decide what we wanted but I just watched the movie and hated the way it felt in movie form. Does that make sense???

    1. That does make sense. I'll have to watch it now to see what the ending is like :)

  3. Great choice for Retro Friday. This is one book that's stayed with me through the years. I don't mind a good open ending.

    I enjoyed the movie, but I also saw it first, which usually improves my enjoyment of the film version.

    1. It is rather unforgettable. Seeing the movie first usually makes me like it more too :)

  4. I read this book a long time ago and can't remember much about it except that I really liked it. Glad you enjoyed it, too :)

    1. I hate when you can't remember why you actually liked a book - it happens to me a LOT!

  5. I'm with you on feeling let down by the ending. Sigh.

    1. So glad I'm not alone! I sometimes just need a nice neat happy ending :)


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