Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith

I read this book as part of the Saturday Review Challenge. It came recommended by Carrie at Mommy Brain.) Sherry (Semicolon) also read and enjoyed it.

I'm halfway on this book. On the one hand, I thought it was highly entertaining. In fact, the reason I kept on reading it was because the narrator of the tale, Casssandra, was extremely witty. The story is told through the eyes of Cassandra who "captures" her family in her journal. Her family is quite destitute, lives in an old castle, and is incredibly weird in every way. They make do with very little, try to impress the neighbors and win suitors (think Austen) while trying to cover up the fact that they are just barely scrapping by. Cassandra's father could work but chooses not to. He was an author who basically experienced one smash hit and then never wrote again. Cassandra, her stepmother, sister and brother spend the whole book mollycoddling him along in a way that made me truly hate his character. He is a wimpy, lazy, good for nothing man who refuses to support his family and, instead, notes their needs and lets them try to fend for themselves. There's nothing remotely admirable in that. I truly dispise his character. Enough to not finish the book. But then there is Cassandra and that kept me going.

Cassandra seems to have the best outlook on life than anyone else in the family. Nothing really gets her gander up. She isn't concerned with catching a beau (until the end of the story) and is generally amused with life in general. I liked her a lot. So I hoped for the best and read to the end.

I don't want to spoil anything, because it is a book that could be easily spoiled, so I won't comment on the ending except to say that I almost wished I hadn't read it. But for Cassandra -- and we go full circle!

I would say this is a "take it or leave it" book. The characters really are not all that admirable and some are downright repulsive. The book IS funny though, in some respects. Obviously other people have liked and loved this book. The front cover refers to it as, "The glorious return of one of the century's most beloved novels." I had never heard of it, but I suppose that doesn't necessarily mean anything. (I pride myself.) I would say, if you have some time and want some witty dialogue, this is a fun book. I also would say that you aren't missing a great deal if you never happen to get around to it.

My two cents. For whatever they are worth!


Rose said...

I read this several years ago upon HIGH recommendation and came away somewhat disappointed, because I didn't think it was all that great. If I'd come to it with no expectations, I probably could have enjoyed it as a light, witty read.

I agree with everything you say! The characters weren't particularly memorable or admirable, and I didn't like how the plot advanced. The elopement was so unlikelyl But, the dialogue was hilarious and unexpected. 'It's just that we've all been dyeing.' 'Is that why you're green?'


'We didn't have a lantern,' I said.
'You didn't have a bear,' he pointed out.

I watched the movie of this a year or so ago and enjoyed it about as much as the book, which it follows rather faithfully, while remaining generally light-hearted. It is rated R, apparently because it shows a shot of Topaz in her rubber boots and because it shows one of the girls doing the 'pagan rites' (sunbathing in the nude). I wasn't offended, but it didn't have to be included in the movie. Anyway, I'd recommend watching it while the book is still fresh in your mind - lovely costumes, lovely accents, lovely scenery with, of course, a castle.

Sherry said...

I liked it; my sister was about like you . . . lukewarm. I thought the ending was one of the best parts of the book because it was unexpected.

Framed said...

My daughter has highly recommended this book so I added it to my Books to Movie Challenge. I hope I like it better than you did, but the characters make or break a book. I guess I'll find out in Oct.

Anonymous said...

im just about in the middle of the book and i find it alright. im going to carry on readin it but i hope something happens that will pull me further into the book. I dont undestand the pagan part. what do they do? what is it for again? i know there is something like a fire and roses in their hair or something but i don't see why they do it. could you help me please? thank you!

Anonymous said...

I have to say I loved this book, though i was introduced to it through school so my expectations were set low. I think the third e=section of the book (the third journal) is what makes it. Maybe i only like it because i, too am a 17 year old girl. The characters are not lovable sometimes but they are very human, and i think thats where the charm lies, along with the unlikely infusion of the faded romance of the castle itself. I am re-reading the book and still love it, but i admit that i am reading because you cant just read the last bit by itself.

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