I Capture the Castle

Dodie Smith

St. Martin's Griffin

0312201656

9780312201654

Trade Paperback

352 Pages

$15.99

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One of the most beloved coming-of-age novels of our time, I Capture the Castle is the classic tale, told in diary form, of six months in the life of Cassandra Mortmain, a perceptive young lady who lives with her poor, socially outcast family in a crumbling castle in the English countryside. Funny, candid, and very bright--and ever optimistic in spite of her bleak surroundings--Cassandra is a charming and instantly likable narrator. Her story is told entirely in the first-person voice of her journal entries, which offer lively portraits of a unique if quirky family.

"I am writing this journal," Cassandra explains, "to teach myself how to write a novel—I intend to capture all our characters and put in conversations." Her father is also a writer-indeed, his first and only book was deemed a masterpiece-but his long, acute case of writer's block has wrought financial hardship on the Mortmain family. As the novel begins, life in the castle is never dull but often difficult; even furniture and books are scarce. Alongside her brilliant yet mysterious father James, her beautiful sister Rose, her artistically off-beat stepmother Topaz, her brother Thomas, and the family's longtime gardner Stephen, Cassandra has little food to eat, few clothes to wear, and no electricity to read by. The story set down in her diary, then, is one of creativity and exuberance amid damp, candle-lit hardship.

Despite such challenges, both Rose and Cassandra discover--in ways gradual and immediate--that they have fallen in love with their newly arrived American neighbors, the Cotton brothers. Cassandra's heartfelt musings on this dual discovery define the endearing tenor and straightforward trajectory of this entertaining novel.

REVIEWS

Praise for I Capture the Castle

"I Capture the Castle is finally back in print. It should be welcomed with a bouquet of roses and a brass band. Ever since I was handed a tattered copy years ago with the recommendation 'You'll love it,' it has been one of my favorite novels. Cassandra Mortmain is one hell of a narrator, offering sharp wit, piercing insight, and touching lyricism. She is a heroine we readers wish we could be, a young woman it is impossible not to adore."—Susan Isaacs

"Dreamy and funny . . . an odd, shimmering timelessness clings to [this book's] pages. A thousand and one cheers for its reissue. A+"—Entertainment Weekly

"It is an occasion worth celebrating when a sparkling novel, a work of wit, irony, and feeling is brought back into print after an absence of many years. So uncork the champagne for I Capture the Castle."—Los Angeles Times

"[Beginning to read this novel], I was promptly enchanted. Finding Cassandra Mortmain . . . was like finding young Francie Nolan reading on that balcony in Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn . . . [She is a] kindred spirit . . . Thanks to Cassandra's lively voice and imagination, [this book] is an exciting read . . . I've been thinking about Cassandra for years. I'm glad she's back on my bookshelf."—The Chicago Tribune

"It is difficult to believe that this classic, first published in 1948 by the author of 101 Dalmatians, has ever gone out of print. Now, with this reissue, new generations of readers will discover the delightful world of Cassandra Mortmain and her down-on-their-luck family. . . . [Cassandra's journal entries] evoke passion and feeling seldom observed this side of Jane Austen. . . . This is a treasure that you will want to share with loved ones."—Children's Literature

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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Dorothy Gladys "Dodie" Smith, born in 1896 in Lancashire, England, was one of the most successful female dramatists of her generation. She wrote Autumn, Crocus, and Dear Octopus, among other plays. I Capture the Castle, her first novel, was written in the 1940s while she was living in America. An immediate success, it marked her crossover from playwright to novelist, and was produced as a play in 1954. Smith also wrote the novels The Town in Bloom, It Ends with Revelations, A Tale of Two Families, and The Girl in the Candle-Lit Bath, but she is best known today as the author of two highly popular
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Dodie Smith

  • Dorothy Gladys "Dodie" Smith, born in 1896 in Lancashire, England, was one of the most successful female dramatists of her generation. She wrote Autumn, Crocus, and Dear Octopus, among other plays. I Capture the Castle, her first novel, was written in the 1940s while she was living in America. An immediate success, it marked her crossover from playwright to novelist, and was produced as a play in 1954. Smith also wrote the novels The Town in Bloom, It Ends with Revelations, A Tale of Two Families, and The Girl in the Candle-Lit Bath, but she is best known today as the author of two highly popular stories for young readers: The Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Starlight Barking. She died in 1990.
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