Author: Dodie Smith
I’d been seeing the title of this book nearly everywhere. I frequently read people’s top whatever books to read before you die, and mostly, I find books that can be considered classical. So I was seeing this on a lot of people’s lists. Then, my school’s librarian sent his weekly list of interesting books to check out, and this was on it, so I was like, “You know what? Let me just read the thing and see.”
It was very much not what I expected. From the title, I was thinking it was going to be some fancy fantasy that involved princesses and warriors and sword fighting – and of course, a castle. It turns out that I was only write about the castle.
Far from being an adventure novel about a strange guest, this book was a collection of journal entries by a seventeen-year-old British girl called Cassandra (lovely name, by the way). It was an interesting rags-to-riches, despair-to-hope story. It’s quite beautiful, though I will say the genre confused me. Some said comedy, some said romance, some said romantic-comedy – I’d just call it a coming-of-age novel, though that doesn’t seem quite to fit either. It is certainly comedic. I did laugh out loud a few times. And there are some serious issues in the book but they are presented so comically that one can’t take them too seriously, anyway.
Dodie Smith has impressed me in that she has created Cassandra so realistically, and through her journal, I have known and identified with her so intimately that I found it hard to believe after-wards that she was just a made-up character, as was everyone else in the book. Everything just seemed so real! I felt like it was a partial biography at some point, though many biographies aren’t nearly as interesting.
It took me a while to get into the book. You see, it’s the type of book I used to read when I was twelve – like Anne of Green Gables or What Katy Did or something. Right now, it’s not that my taste has changed, but I just haven’t been exposed to this kind of book for a while. So, in the beginning, it was hard to get used to it again. A person narrating a novel through a journal, living an ordinary life? NO magic, no fairies, no guns or spies? I found it boring at first. But then it grew on me and then I fell in love…with everything; the setting, the characters, the narration…Oh, now, I want a castle.
Oh, one reason Cassandra seemed so real was because of her speculations and philosophies on life. She was a teenager – a very mature one, though, but with views that were independent, insightful, made sense – but were still a bit naïve. Throughout the novel, her views changed, she continuously confessed confusion, and refined her thoughts. That was so intriguing.
Dodie Smith is actually quite awesome for being able to so easily sit in a fictional character’s shoes and write all this. Magical.
“Perhaps, if I make myself write, I shall find out what is wrong with me.”
“I am a restlessness inside a stillness inside a restlessness.”
Oh, I also just discovered that she’s the mind behind 101 Dalmatians. That is my childhood. When I saw that, my respect for her skyrockete3d. I mean, yo. She created Pongo! And Cruella de Vil! Can. You. Be. Any. Cooler? You bet I’ll be reading the original book soon.
Side note: I Capture the Castle is also a great book to expand on the differences in culture between American and English, in case anybody wants to investigate that in a literary essay or something. You’re welcome.