I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I Capture the CastelApparently out of print for some time, I Capture the Castle is a wonderful tale and I am quite thankful it made its way onto my bookshelves.

A young woman keeps a journal in the hopes it will help improve her writing as she aspires to become an author.  Her family has fallen on hard times; mother has died, father has writer’s block and money and food are scarce.  Smith gives us intimate views into the castle’s inhabitants as each comes to terms with their various inner struggles.

Cassandra Mortmain is 17 and quite intent on keeping her journal accurate and up to date.  She accepts the family’s situation easily and is content observing her surroundings and people with a keen eye.  Without malice, she falls for her sister fiancé, Simon Cotton and begins to understand that love is rarely on equal  terms.  Alas, that is why she couldn’t love dear Stephen Colly.

The family patriarch, Mr.Mortmain, is seriously afflicted with writer’s block,  Having written a well renowned novel, Jacob’s Wrestling, he cannot get the inspiration needed to get his writing mojo back.  He insulates himself and treats his family poorly as he spirals downward until a visit from the Cotton family reawakens his spirit.  He should take notice of his youngest daughter Cassandra’s discipline and put pen to paper post haste.

Mortmain’s second wife, Topaz, is a young model quite in love with her husband.  She indulges him and tolerates his mean-spirited comments as she believes it cannot be helped.  She is known to enjoy clothing as optional and greatly enjoys the outdoors.  She is so subtle, that all she does for the family by way of cooking, cleaning and sewing, is barely realized.  A spirited woman who should be self-indulgent on occasion.


Then I thought that it would be better for Stephen not to know I had been in his room—I don’t know why, exactly, except that bedrooms are very personal; and he might not like to think I knew what a poor little place it is.

Perhaps watching someone you love suffer can teach you even more than suffering yourself can.

How wonderful that Ms. Smith grew up under the influence of a family enamored of theatre.  Perhaps we could take in a show and then chat afterwards.  I’d love to ask how she was able to capture so clearly a coming of age when she had  many years past her own.  Her works and her spirit seem to relish childhood and perhaps that was the key to her prolific works and long life.

My rating for I Capture the Castle is a 9 out of 10.

Please share your own reviews or  comments by using the link below.

Next up, Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel…Look Homeward Angel


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