Sunday, February 13, 2011

book post: i capture the castle

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Since deciding to do a regular book post feature, I knew one of the first posts would have to be about I Capture the Castle, which has been my favorite book since I was around sixteen. I remember the first time I read it, sitting on the couch on a winter day when the light was cold but there was no snow on the ground, and I felt so enchanted by this book that I didn't want it to end. Since then I've read it many times -- seven? eight? -- and it never gets old. This quote by JK Rowling sums up the reason why, in spite of the fact that I've read a lot of amazing books since I was sixteen, I Capture has not lost its place as my favorite: "Dreamy and funny... an odd, shimmering timelessness clings to its pages."

I Capture the Castle, first published in 1949, takes the form of a journal written by 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain in 1930s England. She and her delightfully odd family live in a crumbling castle that her author father decided to rent when he was still making good money from his book. Now, however, her father has not written in years, and the castle and its inhabitants have fallen into disrepair and poverty. The story and the characters are wonderful, but what makes this book so magical is Cassandra's voice -- witty, genuine, observant and interested, contemplative, quirky, introspective... Cassandra Mortmain is one of the best narrators I have ever encountered. Through her journal entries, she chronicles a time filled with changes for her and her family, as she crosses over from childhood to adulthood.

Oh, and this book also has one of the best first lines I've ever read -- "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink." Do I need to say anything else? I love this book. So much.


  1. This is one of my absolute favorite books. I love the last few lines of it most.

  2. Yay! I am always so happy when I find someone who has read it & loved it. I love the last few lines too. Did you see the movie version? I liked it, but I had mixed feelings about how they changed the last line.