I capture the castle by

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.
Dodie Smith - I capture the castle - c.1949, 2001 - pg.7

Cassandra Mortmain’s father is a famous writer; unfortunatley he has been suffering from writer’s block for years. Her mother is dead, but she has a lovely stepmother now in Topaz. She also has a younger brother Thomas, and and older sister, Rose. And then there is Stephen, who has grown up with them, not forgetting the dog Heloise and the cat Abelard. They live in a ruin of a castle in England, and have no income. Which means no money for clothes, repairs, rent, or food. They have sold everything worth selling. And then the two Cotton brothers arrive on the scene.

I capture the castle by Dodie Smith

I capture the castle by Dodie Smith

I loved the first half of this book. It is wonderfully written, and I though that Cassandra was a brilliant narrator. I loved her humour and her honesty. Her desciptions of the castle and its inhabitants are fascinating and I could easily have read it all night.

But I don’t really know what happened, I just fell out of love with it in the second half of the book. Something, and I can’t quite put my finger on it, made me dislike Cassandra a fraction. And I just didn’t enjoy the romance aspect of it. Which is a huge pity because I was enjoying it so much, right up until I just wasn’t.

I don’t know if it was that I was reading it in short sittings and so couldn’t get totally caught up in the story and the world of the Mortmains. I just found myself thinking that the family were just too irritating all of a sudden.

But I did enjoy it so much at the start that I think it is one I may try again at some stage.

Other reviews: Things mean a lot ; The Zen leaf ; Educating Petunia

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6 Responses

  1. Harlequin says:

    This is, as you know, one of my favourite books. I don't share your opinion of the second half but I agree that there is a huge change. As Cassandra grows up and realises that the world isn't as she thought it was, there is a definite shift in her attitude and perception. Things soured for her rather a lot – losing her sister, her love, not being needed by her family and especially her father in the same way, her brother replacing her position with her father… I empathised with her hugely over what happened between her and poor lovely Stephen but I was never really able to understand why she fell for Simon so hard. Perhaps, like Scarlett O'Hara falling for Ashley Wilkes, he just came along at exactly the right point in her life for her to fall for him. Simon always seemed weak to me, almost pathetic and so easily fooled. I did like Neil a lot though and poor mixed-up Rose. They all are such *real* characters. Even dear ridiculous Topaz!

    I am very fond of the ending – the possibilities and potential that is left, rather than everything tied up neatly with a bow.

    Have you seen the film? It's really rather well done and the cast are excellent. James Nighy as Mortmain, Tara Fitzgerald as Topaz, Henry Thomas (from ET!) as Simon, Marc Blucas (from Buffy!) as Neil, Romola Garai as Cassandra, Rose Byrne as Rose and in a brilliant piece of casting Henry "Superman" Cavill as Stephen "all the Greek gods rolled into one" Colley! I have it on dvd if you ever want a borrow.

    And yes, I think you should read it again sometime, see how you feel about the last half then. :-)

    • Fence says:

      I don't know exactly what it was that changed it for me. Maybe her sudden falling in love was just too sudden. I'm not sure.

      I did like the ending, in that it wasn't clear cut and happy ever after.

      Haven't seen the film so must borrow your dvd when I get a chance.

  2. Caroline says:

    I have only heard good things about this novel but what you describe about all of a sudden not liking a book anymore that you loved so much in the beginning has happened to me with other books too and I never really knew what happened.

    I very curious to try and see how it will. Maybe it is good to know that there will be a major change in the middle. I wasn't aware of it until reading your post.
    Caroline´s last blog post ..Anne Perry – Interiors 2009 A Documentary

    • Fence says:

      The style doesn't change, just I became aware that I wasn't enjoying it as much any more. And as Harlequin says Cassandra's attitude and outlook on life do change. Maybe that is what I was reacting to.

  3. Harlequin says:

    I think her falling in love does come suddenly and out of the blue – that's why I never really believed in it. I think he was a person filling a need in her life at the time. She met *no-one* apart from Stephen and he unfortunately was practically brother-like for her. Also, she was so very young so I really think it was an infatuation. She needed to meet more people and not just fall for the one available option. One of the things that I thought was so realistic was that at various points in the novel she has feelings for Neil, Simon and even Stephen for a time. Which resonated so strongly for me, reminding me of my teenage years falling in love with everybody all the time! I didn't read it til my late twenties but since that period of my life coincided with being suddenly single and acting like a teenager again, maybe that's why I empathised with Cassandra so much! :-D

  4. Nymeth says:

    Aw, that's too bad. This is a big favourite of mine – I hope you have better luck with it if you decide to try again!
    Nymeth´s last blog post ..Dickens on Stage- The Library Theatre’s Hard Times