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I Capture The Castle (VMC) [Paperback]

Dodie Smith
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)

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Book Description

18 Jan 1996 VMC (Book 217)
I write this sitting at the kitchen sink' is the first line of a novel about love, sibling rivalry and a bohemian existence in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. Cassandra Mortmin's journal records her fadingly glamorous stepmother, her beautiful, wistful older sister and the man to whom they owe both their isolation and poverty - Father. The author of one experimental novel, and a minor cause celebre, he has since suffered from writer's block and is determined to drag his family down with him. But if the iron has entered Father's soul it hasn't penetrated Cassandra's...

Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (18 Jan 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860491022
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860491023
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 12.6 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 647,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dorothy Gladys 'Dodie' Smith was born in 1896 in Lancashire and she was one of the most successful female dramatists of her generation. Her first novel, I Capture the Castle, was written when she lived in America during the 1940's and marked her crossover debut from playwright to novelist. The novel became an immediate success and was produced as a play in 1954. She has written numerous other novels but is best known today for The Hundred and One Dalmatians, a story for younger readers. The Hundred and One Dalmatians became the basis of two Disney Films.

Product Description


This book has one of the most charismatic narrators I've ever met (J.K. Rowling)

A delicious, compulsively readable novel about young love and its vicissitudes. What fun! (Erica Jong)

Much more fun than the reader has any right to expect (THE WEEKLY STANDARD)

Dreamy and funny...an odd, shimmering timelessness clings to its pages. A thousand and one cheers for its reissue. A + (ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY)

Book Description

I Capture the Castle has inspired writers as diverse as Armistead Maupin and Joanna Trollope and remains a classic tale of the triumph of youthful naivety over middle-aged cynicism.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Wonderful 2 Nov 2004
By A Customer
One of my favourite books of all time, 'I Capture The Castle' is a poignant, warm novel about an impovrished 1930's family living in a crumbling old castle. The narrator, 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain, is one of the most engaging, charismatic heroines I have ever read, chronichling her eccentirc families ups and downs with honesty and wit. A tale of love, heart-break, family and growing up, 'I Capture The Castle' is supposed to have been written for a teenage audience but can, and should, be enjoyed by anyone of any age.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful, witty book. 29 May 2002
By A Customer
I have just finished reading the story of Cassandra and her eccentric family and, despite the enigmatic ending, still have a warm glow. The story is a delightful tale of a bohemian 1930's family as seen through the eyes of the wistful 17 year old, Cassandra. The dialogue is sharp and witty and the characters fully fleshed, believable and more than a little odd. Don't be put off by the 'teen' category of the book; it's a rewarding read for any age group. Enjoy.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My desert island book. 11 Sep 1999
By A Customer
It was one of the only books available to me in a kind of 'teenage' category when I was growing up in the early 60's. How I still remember the delight of discovering this wonderful book, and it's opening sentence of Cassandra sitting with her feet in the kitchen sink. Recently on a long drive through France I treated myself to the audio version of this book, exquisitely read by Janet Maw, and my two young daughters were totally transfixed. How can begin to explain the appeal of this book, to both the quite young (both my girls are under 11) and to men (my husband enjoyed it too). The secret must lie in the endearing character of Cassandra, the narrator, and the amusing and bohemian characters with which her world is peopled, her quixotic family and the love interest from the neighbouring stately home!
I recommend it to both young and old, and I am spurred to write this review, on going to Amazon to buy get a copy for the house and for my young teenage babysitter who has the joy of reading it for the first time to come!!
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, life-affirming, beautifully written 8 July 1999
By A Customer
I hate when books are hyped out of proportion but, in this case, believe the hype. I rarely react to a book so strongly that it leaves me with a pleasant glow days after I have read it. Magically, this book manages to be the warmest, most positive, least cloying story I have ever read (even the end is satisfying without being a cop-out). It is beautifully written with an amazing sense of place, atmosphere and character. Who couldn't fall in love with Cassandra with her quick wit, intelligence and unconventional outlook? I have rarely read such an unpatronising, accurate and positive account of a girl on the brink of adulthood. Read ICTC for the cleverly constructed plot. Read it for the descriptive passages and the evocation of time and place. Read it for the distinctive and endearingly eccentric characters, especially the narrator, Cassandra. Just read it. And don't think you have to be a woman to love this book. I am a guy in his late twenties who intends to pass on my copy of the book to most of my friends - male and female - under the strict condition that it is returned in mint condition!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating heroine 20 May 2009
By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER
This is such a charming book. It's narrated by Cassandra Mortmain, an exceptionally likeable and self-aware teenager who wants to be a writer. The book is her journal and I liked the way that she writes it like a diary, for example explaining when she has to stop because someone is coming. She lives in a small and crumbling castle in the English countryside with her father, her step-mother Topaz, her beautiful older sister Rose, her younger brother Thomas and the son of their former housekeeper, Stephen. Her father wrote one, hugely famous and important book many years ago and has written nothing since. The family savings are spent and they live in poverty. Into their lives come two American brothers who have inherited the nearby stately home and who will be the protagonists for major upheavals in all their lives.

"I Capture the Castle" was written in 1949 and is set in 1930s Britain, at a time when women's roles in society centred around men. Having a career is not an option: instead Topaz and Rose aspire to marry well or to inspire men to create art. Cassandra is an exception: a startingly modern character who hates the idea of marrying for practical reasons rather than for love. Jane Austen would have loved her.

Every character in this book is eccentric but they still feel real. (I was furious with her father Mortmain: what a self-centered man). However it was Cassandra who captivated me. She is so perceptive and honest and she has such a gorgeous turn of phrase as she deals with her family's problems, her moral dilemmas, her hopes for the future. She also captures the pain of unrequited love beautifully - I ached with her.

All the way through I was guessing how the book would end and I'm happy that it didn't choose a predictable ending although like many other reviewers I was hoping for a different conclusion.

I loved this book. It takes a little while to get going: stay with it. It's worth your while.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserved more than 5 stars! 1 Nov 2004
I was given this book as a gift and I must admit that if I had seen it in the shops, I wouldn't have bought it myself. It just goes to show that sometimes other people know you well because I really loved it! I would recommend it because it's really unusual but not boring. It's incredibly well written and the characters are totally believable, if eccentic! It's the journal of Cassandra who lives with her impoverished family in an old castle She charts her relationship with her older (and annoying!) sister, her little brother, her mad stepmother who enjoys walking around naked to get in touch with nature and her novelist father who suffers from writer's block. Cassandra seems to be the only sane person in the book but she has her own shortcomings. Read the book to discover what happens when she falls in love ... You won't be disappointed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars So lovely it gave me a funny feeling in my tummy
It is simply a pleasure to be in the company of Cassandra Mortmain throughout this book. The first line and last line are perfect, and pretty much everything in between is perfect... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Ggogles
5.0 out of 5 stars This was recommended to me as a classic I should have read ...
This was recommended to me as a classic I should have read and they were right! It's a lovely book which captured me totally.
Published 22 days ago by DebsMcG
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very good. I really enjoyed this book.
Published 26 days ago by Victoria Potts
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read.
Cannot believe I had not come across this before. Wonderful read.
Published 1 month ago by Jan P
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
bought for my wife and she enjoyed it , delivery was quick
Published 1 month ago by John Murdoch
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect in every way
Perfect in every way. Beautifully written, a perfect tone and mood sustained throughout. It is a romance - in the broadest sense - but it isn't sentimental or shallow. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Will Moss
2.0 out of 5 stars This was recommended as reading in my book club but not many ...
This was recommended as reading in my book club but not many of us liked it. i found it a bit 'Mills and Boone' like, in the end I just skim-read it as I didn't really have... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Moodally
4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage romance
I really enjoyed this book which has been chosen as a book club read.I found it charming, gentle and flowed along beautifully transporting the reader to a bygone age. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Loved this book. Service was brii. I couldn't ask 4 any more. Thankyou
Published 1 month ago by Cariad
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Aw an enjoyable read, got a bit board as nothing happens but well written and pleasant
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
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