Author: Dodie Smith
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
I Capture the Castle follows seventeen year old Cassandra Mortmain and her family in 1930s England. They live in a falling apart castle in the English countryside in complete poverty. They struggle to for food, clothes, and even warmth on winter nights. Cassandra's father had taken out a 40 year lease on the castle back when his one book was a success. If not for that, the family most likely would be homeless. The story is told in the form of journal entries by Cassandra. She longs to be a writer and practices by writing out the stories of her family's life in what she calls "speed writing" on journals given to her. At times the book reminded me a lot of Pride and Prejudice. The girls worried about finding husbands in the financial state (why they had no money to buy clothes, go to London or even go anywhere that they might meet a man). Then one day, the Cottons come back home with their eligible young sons - Simon and Neil - and everything changes. You know, that whole "a man in possession fortune" thing.
This book took me forever to read but it wasn't because it was a bad book; it was just a slow reader. It had the feel of an Austen or Bronte novel and it needed the time required to savor the art of the writing and to feel the English countryside and time that the characters lived in. Cassandra was such an easy character to fall in love with. She was bright, precocious, and humorous. I have to admit I had never heard of Dodie Smith when I picked up this book but she was quite a writer. Then, I read in the author bio at the end of the book that she wrote The Hundred and One Dalmations - one of my favorite childhood stories.
In short, if you liked Pride and Prejudice, you'll like this novel.