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Cassandra Captured Me, The Rest Not So Much
on 4 September 2010
`I Capture The Castle' is at its heart both a coming of age tale (and you know how I feel about those) and also a family drama. Set in a crumbling old castle we hear the tale of the Mortmains, a family who are living on pretty much nothing, through the eyes of the youngest daughter Cassandra. Ever since their father stopped writing (after his one big surprising and rather cult hit Jacob Wrestling) and the death of their mother Rose and Cassandra, along with their step mother Topaz and lodger Stephen, have resorted to selling their furniture in order to be able to eat.
As well as shedding light on her families past, in the journals we the reader are privy to, she also writes of the arrival of the Cotton brothers Simon and Neil who become the Mortmains landlords through inheritance. It is from this point that you feel and begin to learn that the Mortmains lives could be about to change but could it be for the worse or for the better. If Rose and her family have their way it will be for the better as she decides she must marry the eldest brother Simon, however things don't always run according to plan do they? I shall say no more of the plot for fear I would give anything away.
What I will say is expect the unexpected and keep going. Why do I say that? Well, to be honest, after a flying start with the Mortmains and the wonderful narrative of Cassandra, who is one of the most original characters and voices I have read in some time. At some point after part one had ended and part two began I started to become a little bored. I am not sure why either. It wasn't that the book is very descriptive or that the subtle plot went a little slowly, because I love both those things when done well as this is. If anyone says it's because I am male I will come and find you and really tell you off.
It wasn't Dodie's fault because her writing is utterly superb proof of that is the fact that Cassandra could have easily become a precious little madam who needed a slap instead she was a funny, wry and intelligently observant young woman who you wanted to spend time with. I think it might have been that I was finding it a little contrived and slightly obvious in the way the story was going. Now it will not plot spoil if I say carry on because Dodie gives us the ending you probably wouldn't think at all and I am very glad she did. In fact it was the twists and turns from the end of the second part onwards that saved the book for me and almost gave it a complete turnaround and left me very glad I had read it.