OT Book corner: A favorite coming-of-age story

Dodie Smith

One of my favorite books, and one I discovered only a few years ago,  is I Capture the Castle. The author, Dodie Smith, is best known for her children’s novel, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, later made into a delightful animated feature by Disney (the live-action version? Skip it).

Set in 1930’s England, the book is narrated by 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain, who is growing up with her eccentric bohemian family in a crumbling castle. Her father, once expected to be a literary luminary, has had a prolonged and severe case of writer’s block, putting the family’s finances into peril as the royalty checks become smaller and smaller.

Cassandra is a writer herself, filling notebook after notebook with her observations about life in the castle, observations that are funny, pithy and sometimes quite poignant.  Cassandra, unlike her beautiful older sister Rose, scorns romance.  Yet, she finds herself falling in love for the first time, and experiencing the euphoria and the pain that goes with it.

I Capture the Castle is charming and witty and very touching. Cassandra is a marvelous storyteller as she “captures the castle” and its occupants, and Smith crafted a classic to be enjoyed not just by young adults but adults of every age.

Ramola Garai as Cassandra Mortmain in the film version of "I Capture the Castle."

In 2003, it was made into a film starring Romala Garai as Cassandra, Bill Nighy, Rose Byrne and Henry Cavill. I also enjoyed and can recommend the film (although, as with many film adaptations of books, it makes some departures from the source material). The film is good but the book is even better.  (art courtesy of filmsourcecode and wikipedia)

14 responses »

  1. Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll check it out once I’ve finished with all the RA stuff! 🙂 I like Bill Nighy and Henry Cavill. I haven’t seen ROmola in anything yet.

  2. My thanks too, I’ve never come across the book or the movie. I’ve seen Romola in Atonement and Amazing Grace, and I like Bill Nighy and Henry Cavill too.
    Another recommendation of yours’, Firelight, was unavailable through Quickflix rental so I’ve ordered it through Amazon UK; it had great reviews, so I’m looking forward to seeing it. Will check out this one too.

  3. 🙂 what a great idea with the book corner. I really do like it when someone recommends a book I wouldn’t usually come across. By doing that you expand someones reality and that is one of the best gifts you can give 😉
    Will check the book out, thanks!

    • 😀 I am glad you like! You know how some books just linger in your mind long after completing them, just as certain films do? That’s my experience with ICTC. And while the film version is not perfect, it is nice to see a screen adaptation of a beloved book that I can recommend. And there are so many books out there it’s nice to have help pointing you towards the good ones.

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