I Capture the Castle is one of my favourite movies. Therefore, when I saw that Simon had said that it was one of three books - with Rebecca and Jane Eyre - that was essential reading; I thought I should expedite it up the reading pile. At this point, I might mention my acute embarassment that I had in fact read none of these books. Oh well, I am one-third of the way there now. And what a joy it was! Reading I Capture the Castle was a blissfully enjoyable experience. It is a real curl-up-on-the-couch-with-a-cup-of-tea kind of book. I was completely absorbed by the atmosphere Dodie Smith created. It has to have one of the best opening lines ever: "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink".
I Capture the Castle is told in the first person by Cassandra Mortmain - a 17 year old aspiring writer. She lives in a rundown castle with her father, eccentric stepmother (Topaz), sister (Rose), brother (Thomas) and family friend (Stephen). Her father was once a well known author - having published a novel called Jacob Wrestling which did particularly well in the US. Unfortunately, he has written nothing since. Consequently, the family lives in less than genteel poverty.
Rose and Cassandra dream of wealth. They would like to live in a Jane Austen novel (well 50 per cent Jane and 50 per cent Charlotte). Following a wish on a gargoyle (on the roof of the castle), two wealthy American brothers, Simon and Neil, arrive on their doorstep. Rose pursues Simon - with success. As the story unfolds Cassandra becomes increasingly disillusioned. She is in love with Simon, but he only has eyes for Rose. Cassandra copes with this until she learns that Rose does not love Simon only his money.
I thought it was particularly interesting the number of references to literature that were made in I Capture the Castle. One which struck me was La Belle Dame Sans Merci - the John Keats poem. I recall learning this at school, though I only remember the first line " What can ail thee Knight-at-arms".
A thoroughly enjoyable read. Thanks for recommending it Simon. I commend I Capture the Castle to all.