Monday, February 25, 2013

Dust Off Those Classics: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I Capture the CastleAuthor: Dodie Smith
Genre: classic, romance
Pages: 352
Published: 1948
Publisher: Wyatt Books
Rating: 3/5 Stars

"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. " ~Goodreads

With blurbs from authors like J.K. Rowling and a huge following I was so excited to read  I Capture The Castle.  It promised to be a romance from another time, filled with whimsy and spunk and all that other good stuff they had in the mid-thirties.  There was even an old-castle and a, possibly haunted, tower!  All of the ingredients seemed to be there.  Unfortunately I think I built my expectations up a bit more than I should have.  It wasn't that I hated this book, in fact there were things I really loved about it.  Let's start with those shall we?  First of all I loved the style it was written in.  The story is told through our main character, Cassandra's, journals.  Her genuine and lovable voice lends itself well to the story as she describes her life living in a crumbling old castle with her eccentric family.  Although she has seen years of poverty and neglect thanks to her writer father, she loves her family and enjoys life at the castle.  Cassandra starts out as such an up-beat character.  She sees the good in life and strives to see everyday as a new adventure.  Along with Cassandra, there is an entire cast of lovable, if flawed, characters.  There's her father, who hasn't written a word in 12 years but continues to lock himself away in his office each day, her stepmother (who insists her given name is Topaz and likes to dance naked in the rain), her older sister Rose, who  is the definition of a drama queen and the two new Americans who have moved into the mansion down the road bringing an air of mystery and suspense along with them.  The first half of the book was full of adventure and intrigue with these characters and I ate it up.  I was sure that I would love them forever and that this would be a favorite book.  Then things got messy.

Now, I'm not talking about conflict.  There's plenty of that from the beginning.  Mostly what I'm referring to are the love triangles (yes multiple).  I could have tolerated one, but everyone seemed to be in love with the wrong person and this was the main plot device for the majority of the book.  Not only was it confusing, it was frustrating as hell. Everyone was going around being as selfish and stupid as possible with no concern for anyone or anything else and I just sat there wanting to throw the book at my wall.  By the time I got to the ending I was so exhausted and upset that I didn't even really care what happened.  No, that's not true, I did still care, but then Dodie Smith had to go and make sure that no one  ended up where I wanted them too.  I realize that Ms. Smith didn't do this as a personal affront to me, but it sure felt that way.  I won't say that I hated this book, because I didn't.  I could have even loved it if it weren't for so much nonsense in the middle.  I could have dealt with the ending too, but I was so worn out that all I felt was frustration.  So I'm giving this one three stars because the setting, characters and the beginning were all great.  It just didn't quite live up to my expectations.

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  1. Didn't they make a movie out of this book. I seem to recall they did. I also seem to recall that I didn't like it very much. It's a shame the book fell flat as well.

    Tammy @

    1. Ya they did, I actually thought the movie was pretty decent. It was very true to the book but I think that the story was done more eloquently since it couldn't drag on.