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🏰I Capture the Castle - Dodi Smith 🏰

This post was supposed to be a book review. But how do you review a book you’ve grown up with? A book that’s not your favorite because you think it’s worthy, but because reading it feels like coming home?

So, this is not a book review. This is a love note. So settle yourself in, friends.

I Capture the Castle is the story of Cassandra and Rose Mortmain, two sisters living in poverty in a ruined castle in 1930’s Surrey, while their once-author father reads detective novels in a medieval watch-house. It’s about what happens when two American heirs arrive in the area.


But it’s also a love note to British summers, and the way they come on all of a sudden and are gone almost before you notice them. (The action is paced to fit this, and the book is divided into sections along these lines.) Smith writes the most beautiful descriptions of summer’s afternoons. Knowing she did that in a bout of homesickness while she was living in America just makes this novel more bittersweet.


But it’s not just about that. It’s about growing up means, what emotional maturity means. Watching Cassandra’s growing realization that - despite what she thinks - she can’t ‘capture’ the people around her. She can’t paint a full portrait of them because she doesn’t fully understand them, or herself, yet. The only thing she can describe in full is her home. 🏰

And really, this book is about Cassandra. Which, I know some people have a problem with. But what they call pretentious, I call precocious. And what they call whimsy, I call nostalgia. And I have to confess, I read this book when I was the same age as Cassandra is, and I saw more than a little of myself (or the self I wanted to be) in her. So for me, re-reading this book is like revisiting my 17-year-old self, with all her flaws and hopes.



No book will ever be universally loved. I know that. But if you want a gentle book, where people are mostly decent, but don’t always get what they want, this might be a good book for you.

BRING IT HOME

I Capture the Castle

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GUEST BOOK REVIEWER

Follow Carla on Instagram: @whatcarlaread

Carla has been reading since she was old enough to apply for her own library cards. She grew up using books to explore the big wide world, and meet people she’d never known in real life.
After a BA and MA in English Lit, she’s now a free-range reader!  You can most often find her in second-hand bookshops, soaking in that old book smell.

 

 

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