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I Capture the Castle

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  44,343 ratings  ·  4,877 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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Sense and Sensibility by Jane AustenI Capture the Castle by Dodie SmithHowl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne JonesThe Castle of Otranto by Horace WalpoleThe Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
Castle or Cottage
2nd out of 145 books — 19 voters
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Wanted To Slap Some Sense into the Characters
24th out of 140 books — 64 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Laurie
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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Martine
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 charmin ...more
Melissa Rudder
Feb 10, 2008 Melissa Rudder rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elliott
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.
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
Paul
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
Eh?Eh!
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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Punk
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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Nidhi
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 sits
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Rachel
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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Daniel
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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Mariel
Oct 05, 2010 Mariel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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 appreci ...more
Kelly
Oct 04, 2008 Kelly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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 passio ...more
Jessica
Jan 17, 2011 Jessica rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Pride and Prejudice
Recommended to Jessica by: oliviasbooks
Rating clarification: 3.5 stars

On the edition I have there’s a quote from J.K. Rowling which says "This book has one of the most charismatic narrators I’ve ever met" and I certainly have to agree with her.

I Capture the Castle is written in diary form and our narrator is seventeen-year-old Cassandra who wants to become a writer someday and after her rather unsuccessful attempts at writing her own poetry she decides to teach herself how to write a novel by keeping a diary. She tells us at the beg
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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 satis ...more
Sloan
From the moment I opened this book I knew I was going to fall in love with it. As it turns out, it is by far the most beautifully written novel I have ever read. There is so much depth to Dodie Smith's characters and writing that I can’t even imagine trying to describe it to anyone who hasn't experienced it for themselves. This book is truly one of a kind.

To sum up the book, it is basically a coming of age story that takes place in the the 1930's. The story is told through the main character, Ca
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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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Nikki
I will always love I Capture the Castle. It felt like time for a reread, and I watched the film, and then it ended up being the book I read by my grandfather's hospital bed, so it's been a big comfort in its warmth and familiarity, from the first lines to the last. I find Cassandra a little funnier, now, in a laughing at her sort of way -- I see a little more of her "conscious naivety", I think. A rueful smile surfaces now and again when I think about how like Cassandra I can be.

I think this is
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Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
Oh look, I have neglected to review this. What a shame. I shall do that now.

Okay, it's been more than a week since I finished this. But I believe I still remember what I was going to say about it. So, that's good. When books are bad I tend to forget what I was going to say about them. But, that's not the case here.

This is a lovely and enjoyable book. I mean, look––J.K. Rowling likes it! Of course it's good!

To give a brief summary ... Our main character is 17-year-old Cassandra. She and her sist
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Cara
Sep 04, 2009 Cara rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jane Austen fans
Recommended to Cara by: Valerie
Cassandra is a 17 year old girl living in a castle. Sounds romantic doesn't it? Not so much when you find out that she and her family are literally dirt poor. Things change for her family though when the Cottons come. Before you know it the plot thickens and you can't turn back. I'm itching to say more about it, but I'm afraid if I do I might give things away. Surprised is the first word I thought when I was finished. A good surprise. The beginning seems innocent enough and really does have that ...more
Becky
This was a beautiful story. It's told simply, yet some of it is so truthful and honest and eye-opening and profound that I found myself having to take breaks from the story to actually contemplate what I'd just read. I love when stories speak to me in that way.

This story is Cassandra's, and she tells her family's story, beginning in early spring and ending in early fall, entirely through her journal entries. Cassandra is 17, aspires to be a writer, and her journal is a way for her to hone her s
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Blake
This book recalls every runaway bit of your being, whose romance for those first and invincible impressions of stately castles is very much alive and living. The feeling is not for the knights and battles of their time, but for the free and innocent English-ness that has furnished us with the enthusiasm of children exploring ancient secrets in the countryside, hiding places in old giants, and made us ever more aware of the undergirding certainty that these sunny daylight rambles, even among dark ...more
K
Dec 09, 2009 K rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Just about anyone
Recommended to K by: "The Reading Group"
No book is perfect, but this one came close for me. I loved Cassandra, the protagonist -- a genuinely funny and sharp seventeen-year-old girl who is the quintessential chick lit heroine in many ways, setting the tone for that cliche while simultaneously rising above it. Cassandra and her impoverished family, oddly enough, inhabit a large castle originally rented with the earnings from her father's great, and thus far unrepeated, writing success. Now that her father appears to be suffering endles ...more
Cristin
It is unequivocal: I have had a bit of a love-affair with “I Capture the Castle.” The affair started like most great loves do; you see something you are attracted to, and knowing that it holds promise and seems potentially rewarding, you do your best to possess it. As I was shelving books at The Inkwell Bookstore, in Falmouth, MA, (an excellent independent, superior to all other bookstores on Cape Cod, and certainly one of the best bookstores I’ve seen in New England) I noticed the cover, read t ...more
Sarah Sammis
My husband asked me last night what this book is about. Without giving a second thought I blurted out: "It's like The Great Gatsby." Then I had to take a step back and think to myself -- why the heck did that book come immediately to mind?

Nick Carraway, the narrator and protagonist of The Great Gatsby describes Jay Gatsby, all his excesses and his hangers on with a sense of detachment and mild amusement. Cassandra, the narrator and protagonist of I Capture the Castle takes the same approach with
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Amy
Don't be fooled by the cliches. There's a lot more going on in this book than "quirky" and "charming." It's a brutally honest tale of a 17 year old girl coming out of that self-involvement phase and getting a good first look at the world around her. And it tackles the concept of understanding and portraying beauty in a very effective manner. Her father's puzzle exemplifies the puzzle of the novel....you have to pace through the book with Cassandra to get from point A to point B. There's no flipp ...more
Kaethe
2000, January 1
2012, April 8

I don't actually remember when I first read this, and I'm afraid I can't narrow it down much more than "in the last 20 years". Oh, but it remains wonderful. I picked it up because it has a castle, and a moat, and I was struck by the idea of a moat on Friday. Sometimes the only way to purge a brain worm is to just wallow in it.

However long it's been, it wasn't exactly as I remembered it. There was much more about the family's being broke, and hungry, than I recalled, a
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Pam
You know when everyone is talking about something enthusiastically and you have not a glimmer nor a reference as to what they referring? Well that was how I was feeling when I stumbled across yet another author I admired mentioning this book. So you can get a flavor of what I mean, here are a couple:
"I know of few novels - except Pride and Prejudice - that inspire as much fierce lifelong affection in their readers." -Joanna Trollope
"This book has one of the most charismatic narrators I've ever m
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FABClub (Female A...: I Capture the Castle group discussion (Nov '14) 19 13 Dec 01, 2014 06:44PM  
BookBunnyPR: I Capture the Castle 2015 Reading Challenge 1 4 Oct 30, 2014 04:42AM  
this book is awesome 17 145 Sep 04, 2014 08:24AM  
The title 7 115 Aug 07, 2014 11:00AM  
Ladies & Lite...: * Official Winter Classics 2013 Discussion: I Capture the Castle 37 39 Jun 02, 2014 09:32AM  
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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 success ...more
More about Dodie Smith...
The Hundred and One Dalmatians (The Hundred and One Dalmatians, #1) The Starlight Barking (The Hundred and One Dalmatians, #2) The New Moon With the Old The Town in Bloom It Ends with Revelations

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“Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.” 1792 likes
“I shouldn't think even millionaires could eat anything nicer than new bread and real butter and honey for tea.” 964 likes
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