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I Capture the Castle
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I Capture the Castle

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  72,149 Ratings  ·  7,259 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
Hardcover, Young Adult Edition, 390 pages
Published October 10th 2017 by Wednesday Books (first published 1948)
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Ra Da It's a sharp reuse of Austenian conventions in a 20th century context, reusing the marriage plot to question the opportunities for women in society,…moreIt's a sharp reuse of Austenian conventions in a 20th century context, reusing the marriage plot to question the opportunities for women in society, but in a personable, relatable, funny way. The big questions about life, relationships, love, death, work... I could go on. I first read it as a teenager, but whenever I go back to it I find something new. This is a masterpiece.(less)
Amy Although the book itself takes place throughout an entire year, it gives me a distinct feeling of early spring. I think it's the constant mentioning…moreAlthough the book itself takes place throughout an entire year, it gives me a distinct feeling of early spring. I think it's the constant mentioning of mist and new beginnings that does it.(less)

Community Reviews

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Maggie Stiefvater
Jun 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended, adult
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
...more
Paul Bryant
Jan 25, 2014 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
Martine
Jul 14, 2008 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 charmin ...more
Elliott
Mar 10, 2010 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 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
...more
mark monday
Apr 23, 2016 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
...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
4+ stars. I had never heard of I Capture the Castle until a friend gave it an extremely strong recommendation. 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. Cassandr
...more
Alyson
Oct 14, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa Rudder
Feb 08, 2008 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.
Carol  ꧁꧂
This novel was darn near perfect.

Cassandra & her family inhabit a castle in conditions of extreme poverty. Cassandra captures both her family's character & their eccentric life style beautifully in her journals (a very rare example of a diary narration working) . Different styles & depths of love are explored. I will never be persuaded that Cassandra's father is a likeable (or even admirable) character, but genius is often uncomfortable to be around.

A chance to enter a long vanished
...more
Meredith Holley
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
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.
Joey Woolfardis
Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003.

Why is summer mist romantic and autumn mist just sad?

I had high hopes for I Capture the Castle. Not being a Modern Classics person but loving Cold Comfort Farm I had the view that it would be fairly similar. It was fairly similar, but nowhere near as good: in fact, I'd say it was the same thing but written by a three-year-old like some kind of early Public School attempt at a pastiche.

The story in
...more
Punk
Jun 20, 2007 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
...more
Lesley
Aug 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favourites. You can watch my full recommendation here - http://youtu.be/tFPZ4LoaGq8
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
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
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
Daniel
Dec 13, 2009 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
...more
TheSkepticalReader
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This is what a Young Adult novel should read like.
Nandakishore Varma
"Ah, but you are the insidious type-Jane Eyre with a touch of Becky Sharp. A thoroughly dangerous girl..."


So says the vicar about Cassandra Mortmain, the semi-precocious narrator of this novel - and one has to accept that he has put his finger on the nub. Rem acu tetigisti, as Jeeves would say.

Cassandra is the younger daughter of the once-famous novelist James Mortmain, and as the novel opens, we find her sitting on the draining board of the kitchen sink with her feet actually in the sink, writi
...more
Zanna
Jan 08, 2015 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,
...more
Siyuan
Feb 06, 2009 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 appreci ...more
Johann (jobis89)
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Perhaps watching someone you love suffer can teach you even more than suffering yourself can."

17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain lives in a ruined Suffolk castle with her poor, yet eccentric family. She keeps a journal, filled with hilarious yet poignant entries about her life. But one major life event occurs between the beginning and the end of these entries - Cassandra has fallen hopelessly in love.

This is a quintessentially English coming-of-age story that is the literary equivalent of rolling y
...more
Mariel
Nov 28, 2007 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
...more
Kelly
Jul 23, 2008 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 passio ...more
Rachel
Jul 28, 2008 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
...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
Giss Golabetoon
What did I just read? 🤦♀🙄
...more
Ivonne Rovira
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain hails from the most artsy and impractical family I’ve ever encountered. Her father, James Mortmain, wrote the boffo bestseller Jacob Wrestling 12 years ago, but has suffered a writer’s block so intense that he hasn’t written anything since. His family — Cassandra, 20-year-old Rose, 15-year-old Thomas, 29-year-old stepmom Topaz, and 18-year-old Stephen (the son of the Mortmains’ late housekeeper and a sort of adopted son) — eke by on the ever-diminishing roya ...more
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2018 Beyond the C...: Book Review #7 1 4 Jun 06, 2018 08:03PM  
Tysons Corner Rea...: I capture the castle 5 13 Dec 13, 2017 09:11AM  
Retro Reads: I capture the Castle September 2017 Chapters 11-16 11 19 Sep 16, 2017 08:26PM  
Retro Reads: I capture the Castle September 2017 Chapters 1- 10 39 23 Sep 13, 2017 03:21PM  
Around the Year i...: I Capture The Castle, by Dodie Smith 2 23 Jun 26, 2017 10:28PM  
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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

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“There is only one page left to write on. I will fill it with words of only one syllable. I love. I have loved. I will love.” 3068 likes
“Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.” 2016 likes
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