Eh?Eh!'s Reviews > I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
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's review
Dec 25, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: goodreaders-made-me, lit-huh-rary, babble-added
Read in December, 2009

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 Cassandra observed the oddness of gathering to eat, the servants central to the experience but not involved with conversations, the food going in and words coming out. I agree that food doesn't mix well with stiff formality. I do love how people come together over food though - meeting friends usually centers around food, my favorite gifts have been food, and nearly every party I've ever been to has ended up cramming into the kitchen at some point no matter where the host/hostness intended to contain the crowd. I've heard some people complain about kitchen-centric parties...pssh. Conversation still flows and everyone's closer to the food&drink.

The charm of the story wasn't all about food. I think it was also because of the innocence of the narrator and the society described. Innocence in that it was possible to be at once delicate and matter-of-fact about adultery, jealousy, a cougar, kissing without love, confusion about love, a dress pulled down off a shoulder, but all without the salaciousness w/official veneer of prudery that is our reality now. It has the most delicately worded description of sex I'd ever read: I am not so sure I should like the facts of life, but I have got over the bitter disappointment I felt when I first heard about them, and one obviously has to try them sooner or later. Not to say innocence made things better but I wonder what it would be like to live without an implied wink or leer in certain statements. I'm misrepresenting some of these things since the book is presented as the journal entries of Cassandra.

The story's charm is also in the little realizations about life and self the character has as she observes and experiences. They are the realizations of a young girl who is still very idealistic about life, unaware of some probable harsh future adjustments. This coming-of-age girl story probably wouldn't be as charming for most guys to read.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Sparrow I'm glad you liked it! My review is about the beard, and yours is about the food. Funny! Both so central to the story, but not what it's about at all. I love the part where she talks about the minister and the teacher. Do you know what I mean?

Eh?Eh! Yes! I actually marked that part. I think it's true. And if someone is able to do that then they've mastered some mental trick that escapes most of us. It made me think of the irresponsible people I know, who still look youthful; I guess there's a reason why there are so many sayings about trials giving us gray hair or wrinkles or aging us.

Sparrow It's beautiful and sad at the same time. And I agree, so true.

message 4: by Ben (new)

Ben Are you still on vacation, Eh!?

If you are, I hate you.

message 5: by Matthieu (new)

Matthieu Vacation?

message 6: by Ben (last edited Dec 28, 2009 01:45PM) (new)

Ben Matt wrote: "Vacation?"

You're on vacation and loving every second of it, aren't you?

You better be, anyway.

Eh?Eh! Hate me, Ben! I'm enjoying my VACATION too much to notice the mental daggers! I'm enjoying it enough for two people so it's like you're here with me...hope that's consolation, hah.

Jackie "the Librarian" I love the whole setting, the poverty in a castle thing that goes along with the lack of food. I have an image of Cassandra sitting in the kitchen window, bare feet in the sink...

Eh?Eh! I agree, it was simply written but vivid. I would like to be able to evoke those mental movies in others with plain writing like that.

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