Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Book Review: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Cassandra Mortmain is a young woman living in England in the 1930s or 40s.  The year is unspecified, but as the novel was first published in 1949 it is highly likely that this is true.  I Capture the Castle is a compilation of three journals written by our protagonist.  The journals show the progression of her family as they grow out of poverty.  Her eccentric, widowed father suffers from terrible writer's block and it has brought his poor family into darkness.  Living in the castle house along with Cassandra and her father, are Topaz his second wife, Thomas the younger brother, Rose the older sister, and Stephen the late maid's son, along with two pets, which I think one is a cat and the other a dog.

In come two American brothers who have inherited the castle.  Rose and Cassandra are intrigued by the idea that they have money and could get their family out of poverty.  These brothers and their family take the Mortmains on an adventure just by being there.

The combination of the writing, the settings, and the characters make this story feel sort of like a modern day Bronte (either Emily or Charlotte, haven't read any Anne yet, so I can't compare) or other similar classic.  Yes, it's set in a castle.  They don't actually live in a castle.  They, the Mortmains, rent a house attached to the castle, but they do live on castle grounds with castle ruins.  The grounds play a part in the story as do castles.  I think that's what helps give it this feel.

I give this book 3.75 stars, but honestly, I'm not sure why.  It is a great tale of love and family.  I really got into Cassandra's storytelling and her character.  I didn't like the ending.  I think it's well-written and fits perfectly with the story, but it's just not what I wanted to have happen.

Spoiler (if you want to see this highlight the following space):
Cassandra ends up with Simon and Rose with Neil.  I wanted Cassandra to go to Stephen. I do get that, although she does not state it, she probably looks at him as a brother.  I actually wanted Rose to not get anyone, but since she became engaged to Simon I wanted her to stay that way.  It disappointed me when Cassandra realized she had feelings (or a crush if you don't want to go so far as to say feelings) for Simon.  It felt too cliche for Neil and Rose to end up together, him being one that disliked her throughout the story.  That's really what keeps me from giving this book a full four stars.  

I read this book for pure pleasure.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

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