My mom always told me castles were drafty…

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
3 words:
romantic, youthful, creative
This
book had me from the first line: “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”
Seriously:
how can you resist that?
My first
reading of this lovely book was in 2000, at a time when I yearned for some
serious comfort reading and found it in these pages.
Reading
it this time—for book club—I no longer was seeking comfort, but it found me
anyway.
This
book is one of those gloriously comfortable old-fashioned novels that
transports you into a story and a place far away.
Narrated
by 17-year-old Cassandra, the younger sister of a quirky family that lives in
a decrepit castle in England, this is a story of family, creativity, coming of
age, and finding love.
There
are shades of Pride and Prejudice here:
a financially strapped family residing in a grand house, daughters of
marriageable age seeking husbands (or not), and a cast of exuberantly vivid characters
flailing their way through life.
So I
mentioned that this book feels old-fashioned, and I mean that in the best way.
Smith releases the story into various small tangents that reveal some of the
messiness of people’s actual lives, and that made me really happy.
But since
the book was published in 1949, the grittiness that would be included in a
novel written today is buffed away. Things are hinted at, not made explicit. 
And there’s
a more stately rhythm to the language.
So what
we have here is a novel that beautifully combines the neat and the messy. 
Relationships
are textured and complex, but none are beyond repair. Some
storylines are wrapped up neatly at the end, and others are open-ended. 
Smith
leaves room for the reader to express her or his creativity as the book ends. What’s
next for Cassandra?
I’m
pretty sure it’s something good.

by

Reader, librarian, & happy little geek

2 thoughts on “My mom always told me castles were drafty…

  1. I love "gloriously old-fashioned" stories. There's something about them that's … soothing in a way? Or maybe comforting is a better word. Whatever the right adjective, I just know that I like to read (and reread) them.

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