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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I Capture the Castle

Author: Dodie Smith
Pub Date: 1948
Genre: Young Adult
My Rating: 4.5/5

From St. Martin's Press:

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. By the time she pens her final entry, she has "captured the castle"--and the heart of the reader--in one of literature's most enchanting entertainments.

I was not sure what I was in for when I picked this book up. The description above does not give much away, and I think that's a good thing. I read this book with complete curiosity and yearning for what was going to happen next.

You, the reader, are reading Cassandra's journals regarding the events that have transpired over a six month time period. It is 1930's England and she and her family are as poor as church mice. How they managed I'll never know, but most people do. And I think it was much easier back then, to be poor than it is now. (That's an interesting thought.) Her family is a bit dysfunctional, and out of left field, but you just accept them for who they are and that this is their situation. They all love one another and struggle to get by every day. They stand by each other through thick and thin.

The protagonist of the story is Cassandra who is 17 and coming of age. She is an insightful, touching, and engaging character who draws you in with her observations of her life, family, and feelings. Cassandra made me remember my own teenage years, and some of the difficulties and new feelings that I had also discovered back then. I can certainly sympathize with Cassandra, in some areas.

This book was an entertaining read. There actually is a castle, and I can certainly picture it in my mind's eye through Smith's descriptions. All of the characters came alive in this book.

And you can't help but feel proud of Cassandra for turning into a mature young woman. This is a book for both young and old alike. And for the older reader, it may make you feel a little young again.

I would like to note, that some reviewers on the web had extreme difficulty with the poverty that is described, and the events surrounding the father. I just tend to take things as they are described. It is just a book. The story to me was Cassandra and her growing up. Just felt it had to be said.


Toni said...

Hi there.. sounds like a very interesting read. A castle is always a plus. I think the book that I read that had the most poverty in it that I can recall off hand is Angela's Ashes.

My favorite coming of age book is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I highly recommend it.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a deeply moving story. I love coming of age stories!

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