Dodie Smith´s timeless novel I Capture the Castle is narrated by 17 year old Cassandra Mortmain. Cassandra lives with her family- a father plagued by writer´s block, a younger brother, slightly self-centered sister Rose, a bohemian stepmother, and the devoted help Stephen- in a crumbling castle in England. With no income whatsoever, they live in a state of poverty that cannot be romaticized: They do not have enough food or clothing and the roof is leaking. Their lives change when (very much like Pride and Prejudice) two single men (one) in possession of a good fortune become their neighbours.
I very much enjoyed reading I Capture the Castle, and I´ll definitely want to reread it. Apart from her love for Simon (too bland) I found Cassandra a wonderful character and surprisingly patient in regard to her situation, especially compared to her sister Rose. Her dissatisfaction seemed entirely normal to me although even in then she could have found work to support herself instead of trying to marry the first man she runs into. Topaz was one of my favorite characters, from her name to her communing with nature she seemed to leap from the pages. Every character Smith created in this novel is very real and, for the most part, likable, right down to the vicar. Why everyone in the family endures the father´s behaviour is beyond me but I loved how Cassandra and Thomas tried to get him to write again!
Dodie Smith found the perfect blend of comedy and drama, invented the perfect setting and wonderfully alive characters- what´s not to love?