I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith – Reading Review

Sweet nostalgia combined with adventures, family fiascos and the coming-of-age told in such a lovely tone of discovery. I Capture The Castle is told as a few months of journals by Cassandra, a ‘consciously naive’ seventeen year-old trying to capture the essence of her family. 

This tells the story of Cassandra, her sister Rose, Father and Stepmother Topaz. They live in a castle, but it’s far from glamorous – they can barely afford to eat as their author Father can’t get past writer’s block and artists model stepmother Topaz can’t leave her husband to pursue work in London. We enter the affray at the arrival of a new Landlord. But what will happen to them?

“I shouldn’t think even millionaires could eat anything nicer than new bread and real butter and honey for tea.”

I’m not even going to attempt to review this, me who doesn’t know a thing bar what she likes, but the book is thoroughly charming. It’s life how you imagine rural England to be; swimming in moats, dancing around Midsummer fires and the odd escapade to the bright lights of swinging London. The introduction explains the detail to which the author edited through the book, and her eye for details shines out – in the characters, the descriptions and happenings. You almost feel as if you are Cassandra and are able to step back and analyse the goings on.

Sometime you pick up a book without expectation, and find yourself irresistibly drawn in. If, in the last few days, you saw a brunette girl with glasses and a far away expression on her face, drifting around London with this book clutched in her hand, the odds are it was me. I couldn’t put it down. Escalators, tube platforms, coffee shop waiting areas. All me – at one point I even opted to go without an umbrella to fit my book in my bag, crazy I know.

I Capture The Castle
very much reminded me of the Secret Garden, innocent adventures into an adult world, but a world vastly different from our own. A world of slow romance, ruffles and gramophones; where “Ham with mustard is a meal of glory” and it’s possible to lock your Father in your castle dungeon. I loved the characters, including the splendiferous and beautiful Topaz, the cunning Rose and especially the twinkling eyed Vicar with an eye for mischief.

Kit, thank you for your recommendation – it was softly glorious classic which I heartily recommend for the romantics in your life. It will catch them unawares as well, I can almost guarantee it.

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