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I Capture the Castle

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  42,848 ratings  ·  4,801 reviews
Dodie Smith's first novel transcends the oft-stodgy definition of "a classic" by being as brightly witty and adventuresome as it was when published nearly fifty years ago.
Hardcover, 343 pages
Published March 31st 1998 by Wyatt Book (first published 1948)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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...more
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
Recommended to Melissa by: J.K. Rowling, kind of
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.
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
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...more
Feb 01, 2014 Paul rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
Jun 21, 2007 Punk rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
Oct 04, 2008 Kelly rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
Sep 04, 2009 Cara rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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...more
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...more
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
Dec 09, 2009 K rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I was not terribly impressed by this story. It was well written with wonderful character development of the narrator, Cassandra, however the overall plot was dull. I think what really threw me was the very beginning of the novel, when Cassandra and her family describe their overwhelming poverty, and then they all come to the conclusion that not a single person in the house can go out and work to make money. Why not? What are they doing with their time? Cassandra day dreams and writes in her jour...more
Allison (The Allure of Books)
Feb 20, 2009 Allison (The Allure of Books) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Allison (The Allure of Books) by: Fiona
Shelves: 2009, classicish
This is a book about Cassandra. About her life...and about life in general, really. Her reflections are so real and insightful. Honesty is the main focus of the story...from my point of view anyway. She ultimately learns that there is nothing but temporary solace to be found in settling for anything less than honesty with yourself. I think that is what every character in the story realizes at the end.

I think Dodie Smith really accomplished something in making this a story about life and not a st...more
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this book is awesome 17 140 Sep 04, 2014 08:24AM  
The title 7 114 Aug 07, 2014 11:00AM  
Ladies & Lite...: * Official Winter Classics 2013 Discussion: I Capture the Castle 37 38 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.” 1777 likes
“I shouldn't think even millionaires could eat anything nicer than new bread and real butter and honey for tea.” 954 likes
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