I Capture the Castle is one of Dodie Smith’s highly popular books, first published in 1948. In fact, it is among the classics for young readers over the age of 12. Also, authors like JK Rowling and Nick Hornby say this is one of their favourite books. I wanted to read it as a friend gave it as a gift, and my interest in children’s books has recently increased. I am glad I did. I Capture the Castle was so weird that it helped me escape from my real life for a good time.
I Capture the Castle is the story of a young girl named Cassandra growing up. And we read this exciting story from her diaries that she wrote with great pleasure. Cassandra is a pretty good and entertaining narrator. She, in great detail, describes the interesting castle she lives in and what her family and herself go through over time. However, I found myself thinking, “What on earth am I reading right now? Why is such a ridiculous thing happening? What?”. Especially with the last thing done to the father, one of the strangest characters in the family, I was astonished.
I Capture the Castle is a bizarre book. However, it is a quick read because it is as funny as it is odd. It’s no surprise that the book has a cult following, and the film is popular too. If you want to watch the film, you can find the trailer below. Enjoy!
I Capture The Castle
This wonderful novel tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her extraordinary family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Cassandra’s eccentric father is a writer whose first book took the literary world by storm but he has since failed to write a single word and now spends most of his time reading detective novels from the village library.
Cassandra’s elder sister, Rose – exquisitely beautiful, vain and bored – despairs of her family’s circumstances and determines to marry their affluent American landlord, Simon regardless of the fact she does not love him. She is in turns helped and hindered in this by their bohemian step-mother Topaz, an artist’s model and nudist who likes to commune with nature. Finally there is Stephen, dazzlingly handsome and hopelessly in love with Cassandra.
Amidst this maelstrom Cassandra strives to hone her writing skills. She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries, which candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle’s walls, and her own first descent into love. By the time she pens her final entry, she has captured the heart of the reader in one of literature’s most enchanting entertainments.
Dorothy Gladys “Dodie” Smith (3 May 1896 – 24 November 1990) was an English novelist and playwright. She is best known for writing the children’s novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians (1956). Other works include I Capture the Castle (1948), and The Starlight Barking (1967). The Hundred and One Dalmatians was adapted into a 1961 animated film and a 1996 live-action film, both produced by Disney. Her novel I Capture the Castle was adapted into a 2003 film version. I Capture the Castle was voted number 82 as “one of the nation’s 100 best-loved novels” by the British public as part of the BBC’s The Big Read (2003).
Smith died in 1990 (three years after Beesley) in Uttlesford, north Essex, England. She was cremated and her ashes scattered to the wind. She had named Julian Barnes as her literary executor, a job she thought would not be much work. Barnes writes of the complicated task in his essay “Literary Executions”, revealing among other things how he secured the return of the film rights to I Capture the Castle, which had been owned by Disney since 1949. Smith’s personal papers are housed in Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, and include manuscripts, photographs, artwork and correspondence (including letters from Christopher Isherwood and John Gielgud).
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: