Friday, March 6, 2009

I Capture the Castle

This book, by Dodie Smith, is one of my new all-time favorites. It was GREAT!

It's a book about a 17-year-old girl in England in the 1930s, about her family's poverty and then changing circumstances, and about her growing up emotionally. Cassandra, the main character, has got to be one of my favorite protagonists ever. Although our circumstances are wildly different, I could relate to her--she seemed like a real person. The only thing that ever seemed a little false was her naivete--and of course another character discusses her character flaw of being "consciously naive," so that was appropriate. The characters were all just so real to me. Great writing. And framing the book as Cassandra's journal worked wonderfully.

I loved the secondary characters as well, especially the stepmom. Charley at Bending Bookshelf said the same thing in her review. What a hoot! I definitely didn't expect to laugh out loud at this book, but I did. Here's one quote from the feeling-nostalgic stepmom I particularly enjoyed, from p. 111:

"Look, Mortmain, look! Oh, don't you long to be an old, old man in a lamp-lit inn?"
"Yes, particularly one with rheumatism," said father. "My dear, you're an ass."

Another passage (from p. 258-9) that I enjoyed had to do with Cassandra riding on the train with her dog:

"She behaved beautifully on the journey, except that after we changed into the London trian she took a little boy's cake away from him. I quickly thanked him for giving it to her and he took my word for it that he had meant to."

Yet another thing I loved about this book, that made it seem all the more real, is how Cassandra often mentioned famous female characters in other novels and thought about them in her day-to-day life...sound familiar? Because I think quite a few book-lovers I know could relate to that part! =) Here's one of the best "she's-so-literary" quotes, from p. 233:

"I never had madeira before and it was lovely--the idea almost more than the taste, because it made me feel I was paying a morning call in an old novel. For a moment I drew away from myself and thought: 'Poor Cassandra! No, it never comes right for her. She goes into a decline."

The author had a great sense of humor. So much fun! And the story itself just seems so timeless. As it must be, since this book was published in 1948. Highly recommended!

1 comment:

Charley said...

Oh, yay! I'm so glad you liked this. It was such a joy to read.