Monday, January 23, 2012

Review and Book Club Report: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Book: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Genre: Literary Fiction, bordering on a classic, would perhaps be marketed as YA in this day and age
Rating: ****
For: book club
From: I read the library's book club set, but I do have my own copy that I bought from Amazon years ago, in fact, it was probably one of my first purchases ever from Amazon! What a strange thought.

This is a book is about a young girl, Cassandra, whose poverty stricken family has moved into a run down castle in England. This is in the late 30's I think. They have all the "modern day" conveniences though, as much of their house is an addition to the castle yet, they still use some of the castle for their living quarters. Her mom is long dead, and her dad, a famous author, has been struggling to find his muse again after taking many years off. In fact, Cassandra fears her dad is bordering on insanity. She and her sister and brother along with their stepmother are trying to make ends meet, but thanks to their "live in boy" Stephen, they somehow manage.

Then very Pride and Prejudice style, two lovely boys move into the bordering property! Things start happening and their lives are turned upside down. Suddenly there's dinner parties, and gifts, and trips to London and photo shoots and a "bear" incident that is ridiculously funny and love, of course, is in the air.

This was a re-read for me and I totally enjoyed it again this second go around. It was like a first read though, because I didn't remember many details, including how it ended! Oh man, that ending! It just doesn't make me happy! I hate it when characters make really weird decisions, know what I mean? But it's a sweet, coming of age story with a character that was a blast to get to know.

Bottom line: I enjoyed it a lot!

What the book club thought:

  • I wasn't the only one bugged by Cassandra's decisions and/or behavior there at the end. Though we did decide that she pretty much behaved like the love sick teenager that she was.
  • We talked a bit about how even in the 30s there was the division between the classes. (Downton Abbey anyone?) And that even though Stephen was basically a part of their family, and was even their breadwinner, they still couldn't help but look down on him. That makes us crazy! But, it's how it was then. Do you think it's still that way? Yes, probably.
  • What does the title mean? At first people thought perhaps it meant "catching a guy" or some such thing. But we decided it's probably Cassandra's way of saying that she wants to portray the castle to us, her readers, as she knows it.... she wants to capture it in words and describe it and make us feel it like she does.
  • We all enjoyed the journal style of this book. It made us truly feel Cassandra's voice and totally be part of the story. 
  • We loved the bear story and swimming in the moat! Have you ever heard of swimming in a moat? Have you actually SEEN a moat? They are gross and disgusting! But this one has fresh water, so I guess it was good for swimming. If so, swimming in a moat, all around a castle, would actually be quite the cool and amazing thing to do.
Up next for book club: Atonement by Ian McEwan

17 comments:

  1. I enjoyed this book so much. My favorite part was the swimming in the moat part. It sounded so enchanting. I liked the movie too.

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    1. BookQuoter: Enchanting as long as it's truly FRESH water!

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  2. This is absolutely one of my all time favorite books. I love and hate the ending! I thought Cassandra was a great narrator despite some of her questionable decision. Really enjoyed the "bear" and the moat scenes. Glad you liked it!

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    1. TwoBiblios: I agree, it's a fun book all around.

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  3. I love that the ending bothered you so much and you still enjoyed it. ;) I'm teasing. Nice recap.

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    1. Jenny: I TOTALLY still enjoyed! Of course! :)

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  4. I have owned this book for ages... One day I will read it...

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    1. K: One day soon, right? Very soon.

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  5. I haven't read this book in ages and reading this post brings back memories of reading it. I loved it!

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    1. Amused: It was a very fun re-read. I'm sure if you do find time to re-read, you'll love it again too.

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  6. I loved the 'voice' of these characters and I really felt like I was there watching in the same room. Even though it was a period piece I felt it was easy to get involved with them too. Hard for me to believe that this author also wrote 101 Dalmations!!

    What a fun book club read.

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    1. Inside: I really loved the voice too. I know about 101! So cool really.

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  7. I read this years ago and lived it. But I don't really remember it. I wonder how I would feel about a reread too!

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    1. Tricia... this one really is a good re-read choice. Give it shot!

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  8. And I'm getting ready to read this one! For the first time!!! I'm way overdue.

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  9. I read this one for the first time in 2010 and just loved it. It's one of those books that I can't wait to reread.

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