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I Capture the Castle

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  50,195 ratings  ·  5,259 reviews
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 ca ...more
Paperback, 408 pages
Published January 2007 by Random House UK (Vintage Classics) (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)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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
...more
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.
Paul Bryant
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
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.
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
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
...more
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
...more
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
...more
Zanna
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,
...more
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
...more
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
...more
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
...more
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
ShyPageSniffer
It's sweet and funny and a wonderful coming of age story. I suppose many girls would relate to these characters, but some of it might be complex enough to go over their heads--not that I'm trying to underestimate young girls. This is the type of book that just lets you settle in, like a tattered floral armchair: written very beautifully, but raw and real, expressing the genuine worries and emotions we all have, even after we grow up. The experiences that tatter us, but also the good parts of lif ...more
helen the bookowl
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
...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
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
...more
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
Amy
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
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
...more
Mayra
Jul 03, 2015 Mayra rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
...more
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
...more
First Second Books
"I Capture the Castle" which is so very readable and charming, and which made me realize that people in the 1940s evidently felt the same way about the Victorians' interior decorating ideas that we feel about interior decorating from the 70s, now.
Cecily
The quirky journal of a 17 year old girl from an unconventional, impoverished Bohemian family in 1930s, charting the turmoil of love and relationships. An amusing and plausible mix of naivety and shrewd insights, enhanced by not going for the obviously tidy ending.
Arlene
This novel depicts Cassandra Mortmain’s attempt to capture the castle she and her close to poverty stricken family live in through her journal entries and fast writing, which I can only assume is a version of shorthand pen. She’s an entertaining narrator, but I feel the story suffers from a series of stops and starts and takes long detours down highly descriptive lane. This purple prose at times brought me close to tears with boredom, but for some reason, I was reluctant to leave this action-lac ...more
Clare Cannon
This is the fictional personal diary of seventeen year old Cassandra, who narrates the events and thoughts of her daily life. Though having lived a sheltered life in a dilapidated castle in rural England, Cassandra has an intelligent interest in everything around her. Interspersed with a close account of each of the autonomous and eccentric people in her blended family she reveals personal thoughts and feelings that plot the progress of her own ‘romantic awakening’.

The mood is neo-Gothic, combin
...more
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
...more
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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.” 1839 likes
“I shouldn't think even millionaires could eat anything nicer than new bread and real butter and honey for tea.” 972 likes
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