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I Capture The Castle (VMC) [Paperback]

Dodie Smith
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 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...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New edition edition (18 Jan 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860491022
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860491023
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 13.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 396,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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
56 of 56 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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31 of 32 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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11 of 11 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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39 of 41 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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37 of 39 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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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful - five stars! 1 May 2002
By A Customer
Cassandra,Rose, Stephen et al stay in your mind for weeks. The book is lovely, which is rare today but is also very funny. Despite being written in the 1940's it is still fresh and exciting. Despite my reservations about the ending, it is, and probably always will be, my favourite novel.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
I loved this book but I'm having difficulty capturing in words why I liked it as much as I did. It's gloriously written in vivid, engaging style; it's utterly believable with a range of eccentric, warm characters; and simple but very effective story to tell. But that could be said of numerous novels which are nowhere near as good as this. There is something absolutely complete and very satisfying about I Capture The Castle. It won't challenge your beliefs, it wont stimulate deep thoughts, it probably won't even extend your knowledge about anything in particular, but it doesn't need to. It has a quality all of its own which somehow infuses the book in a way that makes it both a purely pleasurable read and very rewarding at the same time. Think Josephine Tey does literary fiction. It is very English, very specific and very, very good. Highly recommended.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Write This Sitting In The Kitchen Sink 4 Feb 2003
A great opening line, an imaginative structure and an artless narrator all make this novel a really enjoyable read.
The settings and characters are well drawn and memorable. Mortmain and Topaz in particular are lightly but clearly sketched to good effect.
The author, through the character of Cassandra, compares her story on several occassions to Jane Austen's and the Bronte's works. Although surely tongue in cheek, this comparison is not unwarranted. The unhurried descriptions of people and place are similar in many ways to Eighteenth Century novels with their slow, dense plots rather light on action and with solidly constucted background worlds.
Unlike these classic works, "I Capture The Castle" is supposedly a children's book, but the protagonists are about the same age as the Bennett sisters and the total of graphically described "adult" material is the same in this work as in an Austen novel...i.e. there is none.
So, this novel is a "Pride and Prejudice" for the Twentieth Century: of its time but timeless, serious but funny, involving and beautifully written. There can surely be no higher praise.
Now, if I can just get this tap to stop dripping on my keyboard.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I really loved this book
I didn't realise until a friend recommended it that it was written by Dodie Smith who wrote 101 Dalmations! Read more
Published 3 days ago by Grey Charlotte
3.0 out of 5 stars I am not writing a review
Don't want to write a review. Stop asking me.why can't I just rate a book I have paid for and read??????
Published 11 days ago by Laurel Bowden
4.0 out of 5 stars very enjoyable
'Consciously naive' is a description one of the characters uses of the narrator of this novel, but 'unconsciously naive' and 'completely charming' would be closer to the mark. Read more
Published 20 days ago by William Jordan
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
I'm so glad I read this before seeing the film, because the book is just wonderful. It's laugh-out-loud funny, as well as touching, quirky - just a lovely, lovely read. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Kazzy
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I loved this book, it took me into another world, it is really enjoyable and so inspiring for girls. Ace.
Published 24 days ago by Angela Knighton
3.0 out of 5 stars A teenage read
I would only recommend this to teenage girls. It was too much like a fairy story for my liking, but perhaps I'm just old and cynical
Published 1 month ago by M. Bocquet
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book
I bought this for my granddaughter who shares her name with the heroine, as I wasn't prepared to part with my own much-loved copy that I have had, and reread, since 1953! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Niobe
5.0 out of 5 stars books
Avery good book as my Niece has said will be getting
her some more books when she has read the books
she has
Published 1 month ago by Joanne Barry
5.0 out of 5 stars A very readable story
Couldn't put the book down. A really good read. She really did capture the castle - I was there. A great book.
Published 2 months ago by hazhazel
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage classic
Delightfully enjoyable and easy to read. It describes times gone by when you could find a castle to rent for peanuts but how wonderful to grow up in a bohemian environment like... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Helenwheelsgreen
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