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.