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I Capture the Castle

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  61,415 Ratings  ·  6,185 Reviews

Now a major motion picture from the Academy Award-winning producer of Shakespeare in Love

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

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Paperback, 343 pages
Published July 15th 1999 by St. Martin's Press (first published 1948)
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Sandra Synopsis from Amazon:

I Capture the Castle tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a…more
Synopsis from Amazon:

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.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Maggie Stiefvater
Jun 26, 2016 Maggie Stiefvater rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, recommended
What a generous caretaker of a novel.

If I say that this novel didn't require me to do any work, it sounds like a vague insult, as if I'm saying that the story or the characters were slight, and that's not at all what I mean. I mean that the novel, both through format (a very self-aware narrator's journal) and authorial intent (with a firm eye on the sort of story-telling pedigree that brought her there), anticipated my readerly needs and desires with such swiftness that I felt agreeably anticipa
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Martine
Jul 14, 2008 Martine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jane Austen fans
This is going to be the shortest review I've written on this site in a while. The reason I'm going to keep it short is because no description could possibly do justice to this quintessentially English coming-of-age story which ranks among the most pleasant surprises I've had, book-wise. A summary would make it sound slight, trite and predictable, all of which it is, and would not reflect the fact that it's also funny as hell, charismatic, deliciously eccentric, Austenesque and so utterly ...more
Elliott
May 02, 2010 Elliott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That's right. I really liked it. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. Now, would you please excuse me while I go read Hemingway and then kill something with my bare hands.
Laurie
Sep 04, 2007 Laurie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With many of my favorite books I can still remember the person who put a copy in my hands. Matilda was given to me for my 8th birthday by my stepdad, the title Pride and Prejudice scribbled on a piece of paper and handed to me by my young (must've been straight out of college) 7th grade English teacher-- she gave me the paper and sent me to the library to find it, and I still remember sitting in that classroom taking in the opening page with grand delight ....

I hadn't ever heard of I Capture the
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Paul Bryant
Feb 01, 2014 Paul Bryant rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
My name is Cassandra Mortmain, I know it sounds made up but it’s true. I’m 17 and bright as a button and never been kissed because it’s the 1930s. My family are effortlessly bohemian, we all live in a crumbling castle – oh yes, quite literally! – and we have no money at all and we have only barely heard of the twentieth century. How poor we are since father stopped earning any money. He used to be a genius but now he does crosswords. We eat the occasional potato and scrape plaster off the walls ...more
mark monday
May 20, 2016 mark monday rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to mark by: Mariel
 photo tumblr_o1yfadHSjy1srk253o1_1280_zpsv5mn38ip.jpg

Dear I Capture the Castle,

What to say, what to say? Hard to put down all the feelings. To put it simply: you did everything right. The characterization like flowers slowly blooming. The story like seasons changing, invisibly but inevitably. The romance made both heartfelt and utterly, often infuriatingly real. The details, oh the details! I was put right into this world and right into Cassandra's head. And the charm! You are such a charming book - so amusing and so sweet-tempered yet with a cer
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Melissa Rudder
Feb 10, 2008 Melissa Rudder rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melissa by: J.K. Rowling, kind of
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alyson
Oct 14, 2008 Alyson rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sparrow
It is difficult for me to say why I found I Capture the Castle so personally meaningful, which may mean that I will be falling all over myself in this review. When I first started reading I was bored and feared that the poverty of the characters would become dirty and depressing for its own sake, as in Angela's Ashes. Instead, it's more like a lovely BBC movie where people are always chewing with their mouth open, but somehow it is only charming. At first I resisted liking anything about it, inc ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
I had never heard of I Capture the Castle until a friend gave it an extremely strong recommendation a few weeks ago. Dodie Smith is the author of The 101 Dalmatians (the original basis for the Disney movie, and the only reason I was familiar with her name), which I read many years ago and really enjoyed.

This 1948 novel is a coming of age tale about an intelligent 17 year old girl, Cassandra Mortmain, who lives in semi-genteel but crushing poverty in mid-1930s England, in a dilapidated castle. C
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April (Aprilius Maximus)
I was expecting to absolutely adore this and am so sad that I hated it :( This was honestly just SO boring and unnecessarily long and I didn't care for any of the characters. Their father was abusive and horrible and nobody seemed to care and they were all so superficial! All they cared about was money and status and Cassandra was so horrible to everyone! Poor Stephen omg. Also, the ending SUCKED, so there's that.
Punk
Jun 21, 2007 Punk rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Young Adult Fiction. Seventeen-year-old Cassandra begins a journal in an attempt to perfectly capture her family and the run-down castle they live in. This book wasn't at all what I expected. I'm reading it for the first time as an adult, and maybe I would have felt differently about it as a kid, but now I just found it sort of upsetting, and not in a cathartic way.

It's got a playful tone, yet is almost relentlessly dreary outside the narrative itself; possibly because Cassandra is too young to
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Eh?Eh!
Dec 27, 2009 Eh?Eh! rated it really liked it
Vacation reading continues.

The story is so charming! I especially like how the main character, Cassandra, appreciated food because of her poverty. Favorites:

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

-But I did like the restaurant; most of the people eating there were unusually ugly, but the food was splendid. We had.... We were gloriously bloat.

-...ham with mustard is a meal of glory.

There was a formal dinner party where Cassan
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Nidhi Singh
I don’t really want to write anymore, I just want to lie here and think. But there is something I want to capture. It has to do with the feeling I had when I watched the Cottons coming down the lane, the queer separate feeling. I like seeing people when they can’t see me. I have often looked at our family through lighted windows and they seem quite different, a bit the way rooms seen in looking glasses do. I can’t get the feelings into words-it slipped away when I tried to capture it


As she sit
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Zanna
Mar 08, 2015 Zanna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bechdel-pass
3.5 stars

Cassandra is mostly wisely honest with herself as well as being generous spirited and loving, and the combination makes for pleasant reading. There is a feast of interesting details, though the castle makes me feel cold, and some nicely sketched characters - the vicar got some good lines, and Thomas the younger brother delighted me at every appearance, reminding me of my own lil bro. I wish Leda Fox-Cotton weren't so mistreated. It's necessary to see right through Cassandra's prejudice,
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Daniel
Dec 30, 2010 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Remember all the mockery, hating and questioning of my sexuality that accompanied me starting to read this book? No? Just look at all the comments down below -- and note all the work I had to do defending myself. It was really quite painful. So painful, in fact, that it took me something like a year or longer to actually finish the blasted book. (To be clear, I did read lots of other books in the meantime.) So, was it worth all the heartache I was subjected to on GoodReads?

Well, "I Capture the C
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TheSkepticalReader
Sep 19, 2016 TheSkepticalReader rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-print, classics
This is what a Young Adult novel should read like.
Mariel
Oct 05, 2010 Mariel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dreamers and realists
Recommended to Mariel by: a great amazon reviewer
I Capture the Castle is one of my favorite books for making everything out of every event until it is all absolutely important. I capture it all and it is going to last forever. It's not a lonely voyeur book but a loving one, like those collections of stories and images and songs we store up to shield against the blackest stuff (or at least a rope to hold onto).
I bought 'Castle' in 2002 after reading a review on amazon that said it was a "dark flip side" of Elizabeth Bowen's The Death of the Hea
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Siyuan
Sep 19, 2011 Siyuan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The descriptions of the castle and the voice were great; I thought I had outgrown this sort of coming-of-age story centered around a wide-eyed, precocious young girl. For some reason I especially liked reading about their meals, both before and after the Cottons came along to provide them with better food. What is jellied soup, anyway? There was also a cutely Pollyannaesque tone to the cheerful way Cassandra would casually make note of all the things they lacked and had sold off, and her ...more
Lotte
If you like Jane Austen, then you should definitely read this.
Rachel
Jul 28, 2008 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished reading I Capture the Castle for the first time and I was left with wonder at the depth and artistry of Dodie Smith. The characters were strong individuals without becoming clich?s (Let's face it: Rose could have been.) I loved their quirks and their problems.

As I flip through others reviews though, I'm rather shocked to read that many people believed/hoped that 'I Capture' was a romance. It isn't. The ending isn't accidental or vague. (Yes it leaves possibilities... But that is part
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Mayra
Jul 03, 2015 Mayra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mayra by: J.K. Rowling
Shelves: excellent
This, in a way, is a coming-of-age story. In just a few months, Cassandra Mortmain learns pages and pages about herself – her capabilities and her flaws.

I found it no coincidence when the author, through Cassandra, expressed her views on endings that are too happy, those that close the story too shut, saying that with books like that you forget about its characters too quickly. How right she was, because after I finished her novel I spent about two hours lying in bed, resolutely incapable of goi
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William Thomas
I began to harbor a very strong dislike for this book approximately sixty pages in. And I then hated myself for hating this book. Because it seems to be so beloved that I kept beating myself up for not understanding why it was so wonderful. And then suddenly, I stopped and the book ended. And I sighed with relief as I put it away, never to be touched again.

This is one of those books that most reviewers would call "delightful". I could imagine many would sit around reading it feeling giddy and de
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Kelly
Oct 04, 2008 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, particularly those with a touch of anglo or gotho-philia.
Was it a bit "consciously" naive? Perhaps. Did I care? No, I did not. Even the character who spoke those words soon preferred to take them back in favor of the fascinated love he felt towards the beauty of the Mortmains of Godsend Castle. I smiled upon my first acquaintaince with Miss Cassandra Mortmain, laughed upon further conversation, and felt as if I were there clasping hands with her in the shadows of her crumbling castle near all the way through. The book is an invocation of Gothic ...more
Amy (shoutame)
Oct 28, 2015 Amy (shoutame) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, classics
A must read for any lover of Jane Austen! Fantastic!

- This novel follows the story of the Mortmain family who live in a dilapidated old castle in the countryside. We see the world through the eyes of Cassandra Mortmain, the youngest daughter of the household and easily my favourite character from the novel! We learn how the family relies on the profits from their novelist Father's book - a book that is slowly dwindling in popularity, threatening the meagre amount of food and comfort they have le
...more
helen the bookowl
Feb 23, 2015 helen the bookowl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm glad I finished my reading year of 2014 with this book because this was amazing!
Cassandra starts out as the sweetest child who conducts a diary which she writes through speed-writing. I found this very entertaining because we get to be inside a 17-year-old girl's mind and see things from her perspective. Cassandra is quite naïve, but she is also so adorable that you can't help but fall in love with her. The same goes for her family and Stephen who was my favourite character.
I LOVED the fir
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 Lisa Ann ⛄
Although I Capture the Castle did have some flaws and I didn't particularly care for some events that happened during the latter part of the story, I can very much understand why it is considered to be a "classic".

Told from the perspective of a seventeen year old character who grew up within a rather eccentric family during the 1930's, for the most part it made for a wonderful story. I loved the fact that the main character often sorted through her thoughts, feelings and daily events, by writin
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Cora ☕ Tea Party Princess
This book changed my life.

It was recommended to me by the librarian at school and at first I was a bit apprehensive. I was a timid reader when I was thirteen, I'd rarely read anything other than Harry Potter. But this book, from the very first page, gripped me in a way that no other book ever has done. I sat with the book on my lap under the table in every lesson at school, I passed on watching the television when I got home, instead rushing to my room to curl up on my couch and continue reading
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Katrina
I loved the first half of the book but around chapter 12 I felt like I was ploughing through just to finish/have resolution. I wanted to give the book four stars because Cassandra, the 17-year old narrator who lives with her family in excessive poverty,easily draws the reader in to her world. Dodie Smith surrounds her with characters that are robust and interesting. Before 3/4 way through the book, the author becomes unnecessarily descriptive about impertinent details. While the ending was ...more
Marlin Elina
May 05, 2016 Marlin Elina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, favorites
I'm not of the opinion that a book has to be relatable in order to be excellent. However, in this case, I related to some of the things in this book so much that I couldn't help but love it, it just meant much to me on a personal level. Furthermore, it inspired so many thoughts that I could only get through certain passages very slowly, pausing to think or write down quotes as I went along. I think this is one I will return to again and again.
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Born Dorothy Gladys Smith in Lancashire, England, Dodie Smith was raised in Manchester (her memoir is titled "A Childhood in Manchester"). She was just an infant when her father died, and she grew up fatherless until age 14, when her mother remarried and the family moved to London. There she studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and tried for a career as an actress, but with little ...more
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