Saturday, May 5, 2012

Capturing a Castle-- in Words

Maybe others, like I, had not heard of this book. It was another gem I picked up somewhere and promptly fell in love. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith is narrated by 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain. She is living in a ramshackle castle in Britain with her eccentric family-- which sounds intriguing already-- and it is through her point of view as a fledgling writer that we learn their story. What struck me when I started the book is the VOICE of this narrator. It is absolutely charming and witty.

The story is set in the 1930's, when the Mortmain family's estate is crumbling into poverty. Cassandra lives with her lovely sister, Rose; her father, a novelist facing crippling writer's block; and  Bohemian stepmother, Topaz. They are struggling to maintain their day-to-day existence, but Cassandra refuses to give in to this sad state.

She gets hold of a journal and writes, "I have just remarked to Rose that our situation is really rather romantic, two girls in this strange and lonely house. She replied that she saw nothing romantic about being shut up in a crumbling ruin surrounded by a sea of mud."

Things begin to change when two wealthy American brothers move into the estate next door. The sisters' romantic isolation begins to come to an end, much to Rose's delight and Cassandra's dismay.

Dodie Smith published this in 1948. She of course, is most well-known for her masterpiece, The 101 Dalmatians. I just discovered that she wrote a few other books, available for e-book on Amazon. I will definitely be checking these out!

Not surprisingly, this is also a movie. There are some fabulous actors in this; I've seen them in other things, so it is on my to-be-watched list. I have some hope that it will come close to the book. 

Which movies have you seen that did excellent justice to the book on which they were based?


  1. Barb Leatherman (mom)May 6, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    I don't know if it did excellent justice to the book, but I enjoyed "The Prize Winner", which is a book you mentioned in an earlier blog, I believe. I enjoyed the book and the movie. However, I think the movie made to the husband out to be worse than he really was in person.

    1. Yes, that was fun to see because of the time period. What did you think of "The Help" compared to the book? I loved the movie; ashamed to say I didn't read the book!

  2. Oh, I just recently watched "The Big Year" and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was more a summary of the book, but I think it added some neat images by showing the birds. My husband said that he was amused by it since people were all going nuts about snowy owls spotted at the lake where he works. The movie got a lot of bad reviews, but I think it depends on what you were looking for. As a comedy, it is not drop-dead funny. It is more about three men, and why they sought to find the most birds, and what they learned in the end. It was a great moral story about how you can seek to be the best, and even win, but is it really worth costing you everything?

  3. Barb Leatherman (mom)May 7, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    I want to see "The Big Year"! I liked the book a lot. I'm an avid birder. Oh and yes, I liked the movie "The Help" and I read the book. I think the movie was right on. They were both wonderful.