I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

81%

27 Critic Reviews

There's charm here—there's a gay, English spotting of humor that makes the romance and the slight story almost a natural for the Thirkell followers—for enthusiasts of the Jane Austen tradition.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

One of the 20th Century's most beloved novels is still winning hearts!

I Capture the Castle tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills. She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries. Her journals candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle's walls, and her own first descent into love. By the time she pens her final entry, she has "captured the castle"-- and the heart of the reader-- in one of literature's most enchanting entertainments.

“This book has one of the most charismatic narrators I've ever met.” -- J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series

 

About Dodie Smith

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Born near Manchester, Dodie Smith was already smitten by the theatrical bug by the time she entered St Paul's Girls School in London. After training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, she went on to become a remarkably unsuccessful actress. Later she became a playwright and this time achieved considerable acclaim. She achieved enduring success with her first novel, I Capture the Castle, which was recently voted #82 in 'the nation's 100 best-loved novels' as part of the BBC's Big Read. Her children's book The Hundred and One Dalmatians was made into a cartoon film by Walt Disney.
 
Published April 1, 2003 by St. Martin's Press. 351 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Children's Books, History, Romance, Action & Adventure, Parenting & Relationships, Biographies & Memoirs. Fiction
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Critic reviews for I Capture the Castle
All: 27 | Positive: 25 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Excellent
on Apr 09 2012

There's charm here—there's a gay, English spotting of humor that makes the romance and the slight story almost a natural for the Thirkell followers—for enthusiasts of the Jane Austen tradition.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Sue Summers on Apr 06 2003

The appeal of the book is that of a time of innocence...At the same time, it captures the pangs of growing up and unrequited first love just as meaningfully for the over-precocious nymphets of the Justin Timberlake era

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Penelope Lively on May 30 2003

You can read I Capture the Castle as a period piece...It is that, but there is more...There are some false touches, notably an episode in which Rose, kitted out in an appalling fur coat bequeathed by an aunt, is mistaken for an escaped circus bear. This tips jarringly into farce.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Sue Summers on Apr 06 2003

I Capture the Castle is loved by a long roster of distinguished writers, including J.K. Rowling and Armistead Maupin, who was given it by his English grandmother in North Carolina as a boy and paid homage to it by structuring his novel Maybe the Moon on similar diary lines.

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Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Catie Bloomfield on Jun 20 2011

I Capture the Castle is an influential, poignant, and lovable coming-of-age story that I highly recommend because it allows the reader to go with Cassandra on her journey to maturity and her insights on life in general.

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Rachel Johnson on Oct 25 2012

I think the only reason I write at all is because I want to write a book that someday, someone will love as much as I love I Capture the Castle, which has seeped into my veins like damp into the ancient, chill stones of the castle. It is my forever book.

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Jessica Duchen on Oct 22 2011

I think the only reason I write at all is because I want to write a book that someday, someone will love as much as I love I Capture the Castle, which has seeped into my veins like damp into the ancient, chill stones of the castle. It is my forever book.

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Tor

Above average
Reviewed by Jo Walton on Aug 16 2008

That’s how it begins. It isn’t really a romance, in any sense of the word, it’s an internal voyage of discovery. It’s also wonderfully funny.

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We Love This Book

Good
Reviewed by Katie Allen on Oct 27 2011

It's easy to be beguiled by the swing music, tea gowns and romantic setting - but it's also a sharp, funny book, never straying into sentimentality as the entwined love affairs, like real ones, are always bittersweet and never quite what you expect.

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The New Republic

Good
Reviewed by Chloe Schama on Aug 13 2012

I Capture the Castle is the beloved but far too narrowly celebrated masterpiece of British writer Dodie Smith.

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Before It's News

Above average
on Feb 17 2013

Apparently out of print for some time, I Capture the Castle is a wonderful tale and I am quite thankful it made its way onto my bookshelves.

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Things Mean a Lot

Good
Reviewed by Ana S. on Dec 10 2008

I Capture the Castle is such a lovely book. On top of everything there’s the writing, which is beautiful enough to make me want to read everything Dodie Smith has ever written.

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The Blue Bookcase

Above average
Reviewed by Christina on Apr 19 2012

This short and sweet novel would make a great holiday read. I'd especially recommend it to any Jane Austen enthusiast. It has a similar but slightly more modern feel.

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Reading for Sanity

Good
Reviewed by Kari on Dec 09 2011

For the sensitive reader: Nothing to offend here. Feel free to start reading asap. Sum it up: Journal writing at its best from a teen you wouldn't mind meeting.

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She Reads Novels

Above average
Reviewed by Helen on Feb 04 2012

I was quite happy with the way the book ended too – not all of the loose ends are tied up, but I liked the fact that Dodie Smith chose a slightly unexpected way to finish the story.

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Chrisbookarama

Good
on Dec 19 2013

Since I Capture the Castle is a diary of a young woman, sometimes the reader sees a clearer picture of what is happening than Cassandra can. Still, I was surprised by some of the developments. I thought the ending was perfect. Not too tidy.

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Eagle

Good
on Feb 26 2012

If you like people stories, or adventures in crumbling English castles, seek this one out. It's a worthy story in the Austen tradition and will appeal even to people who aren't that fond of romances (although you do have to suspend disbelief through some of the falling in love bits).

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Reading World

Good
Reviewed by Susan on May 01 2012

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith is even more than I hoped. It starts off lighthearted and charming, with undertones of fairly innocent-seeming family turmoil. But it is a coming-of-age story, and it becomes increasingly sophisticated...

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A Good Stopping Point

Good
on Dec 31 2009

I Capture the Castle is definitely one that I will purchase down the road. All those who spoke to me of this book did so with great affection and I will now join their ranks.

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The Compulsive Reader

Good
Reviewed by The Compulsive Reader on May 12 2014

I Capture the Castle is wonderfully witty, completely memorable, emotionally charged, and so realistic that you will forget that it’s a novel.

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Bookworm1858

Above average
Reviewed by Bookworm1858 on Nov 10 2011

As you can, it's my very weird self that just wasn't digging this book despite the many factors that would make it seem like something I love, historical, fun writing, a generally sympathetic main character. Overall: I was confused by the unsaid background information that informed the decisions of the characters...

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Book Group of One

Good
Reviewed by carolwallace on Jul 26 2011

The charmer is the one who asks questions, includes you, makes you feel clever and funny and desirable. That doesn’t really help me define literary charm, but I know it when I see it, and I Capture the Castle is its very embodiment.

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A Case for Books

Good
Reviewed by Anna on Jul 17 2012

All in all, this is a classic for a reason. It is a charming, funny and familiar story of growing up which will ring true to many readers, especially English female readers I imagine. The eccentric goings on of the Mortmain family are entertaining and engaging but it is Cassandra's voice that really makes this special.

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Chachic's Book Nook

Good
Reviewed by Chachic on Jun 29 2012

Highly recommended for historical fiction readers and fans of Eva Ibbotson’s YA novels (note that those titles were originally published for adults and only repackaged as YA a few years ago). I wouldn’t mind reading more books similar to this one.

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A Book and Short Latte

Good
Reviewed by ABOOKANDASHORTLATTE1 on Jun 19 2012

Ultimately, I can’t say that I wouldn’t have rathered for the story to retain the inconsequential exuberance of its first half...Yet, I can’t deny Smith’s success in telling the tale she clearly wished to convey.

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Quirky Vintage Dolls in Peach Stockings

Good
Reviewed by Natalie on Jan 06 2012

Overall I absolutely- no doubt in my mind -loved it and would read it again straight away if I didn't have a goal to worry about. I recommend this novel to anyone who likes innocent romances or historical books.

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Where the Writer Comes to Write

Good
Reviewed by Romi.x on Jun 29 2011

...it's written so truthfully that it can't be anything but. It's remarkable and never will there be a book quite like it.

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Reader Rating for I Capture the Castle
86%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 539 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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