Friday, January 6, 2012
Recommending: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
The reason I was a little unsure if this was a classic is because it was published by "Vintage" publishing who tend to call just about any best seller a "Vintage Classic". It was written in 1949 I think and set somewhere amongst towards the end or shortly after the Victorian era. Maybe the twenties? According to the foreword J.K Rowling really liked it so I guess that's got to count for something, right? I am marking it off on my classics challenge anyhow...
I think the title of this book can scare a lot of people away." 'I Capture The Castle" what on earth could that mean?" says he or she. My smart ass dad saw it and said "I tried to capture the castle but it ran away!" in his squeaky mocking voice. His behavior was both typical and hilarious. The main character of the story wants to be a writer. The novel is written in first person as a journal with chapters rather than dates and she is very persistent on trying to capture the essence of the castle in her descriptions. As she does attempt this she finds herself capturing not just the castle in her writing, but the story of her unconventional family... Sound Interesting now?
The ruinous castle becomes such a big factor in this novel. It is almost like it's own character in the way that it takes part in the other characters lives. It also accents the fact that we aren't really given any dates for the timeline(unless I missed them). We are told of things like wearing black in summer and listening to a wireless and a gramophone and of reading Jane Austen. Little hints. The castle also shows that the characters are living out of sync with normality perhaps their whereabouts is part of that? And, even though they have to scrimp and save and live realistically in that matter, the fascination with the castle and the taking part in rites/rituals implies that these characters are somewhat dreamers.
When the rightful heirs of the Castle return the characters are more social and romantic than they ever have been. It does seem a little Jane Austenish at first when the two brothers move into the neighboring estate Scoatney, however if this novel was a retelling of 'Pride and Prejudice', then it certainly ends very very differently. The romance in this book is much more passionate than Austen's- More kisses- and definitely takes different paths than what we would think at the beginning of the novel. This is not a raunchy novel either. It is the perfect balance I think of passion and innocence.
I did begin to predict what might happen about 2/3 of the way through, but kept reading anyway, because I wanted to see if I was right and Cassandra (the main character) was like an old friend to me by then. She was an extremely observant character, but also quite naive. She noticed things, but had not enough social experience to interpret them truly. I felt that I was a kindred spirit with her on this one. I think I like to see parts of myself in the main characters of books that I read.
This novel was also very dimensional as far as the storyline was concerned. I felt that the author had put a lot of thought into how everything would play out. It seemed that each person had their own obstacles and had some how found a way to overcome them by the end. It's the way that all good books shall be. The author also didn't go over the top with the romance. The stories about each character were not entirely romance related. This book also dealt with money issues, family issues and career issues.
Overall I absolutely- no doubt in my mind -loved it and would read it again straight away if I didn't have a goal to worry about. I recommend this novel to anyone who likes innocent romances or historical books. I especially recommend it to the Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte fans of the world. Oh and Sarah Addison Allen fans I think this could be the classic for you! I think I may have even interested dad after I explained the meaning of the title, but he'll probably just watch the film when I buy it. I can't wait to see how it compared to the book!
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