I Capture the Castle

Book review by Sally Engelfried, Common Sense Media
I Capture the Castle Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 12+

Captivating story of teen's eccentric English family.

Parents say

age 14+

Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 12+

Based on 3 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 18+

I capture the castel

Dodie Smith's novel I Capture the Castle is a journey through the mind of a young writer as she attempts to chronicle her daily life. Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain has recently learned to speed-write, and she decides to work on her writing skills by describing the actions and conversations of those around her. Cassandra lives in a fourteenth-century English castle with an interesting cast of characters: her beautiful older sister, Rose; her rather unsociable author father and his second wife, artist-model Topaz; Stephen, the garden boy; a cat and a bull terrier; and sometimes her brother Thomas when he is home from school. One fateful day they make the acquaintance of the Cotton family, including the two sons, and a web of tangled relationships ensues. While I definitely recommend this book to other readers, I would recommend it to older teenagers, mainly because it will resonate better with them. The writing is tame enough that younger teens could also read it, but most of the characters are adults or on the verge of adulthood. Older readers would take the most from it since they can not only relate, but they may also better pick up on and appreciate Cassandra's sometimes subtle humor. Over the course of the novel, Cassandra undergoes a definite transformation from child to mature young adult, even though it's only over the course of several months. I love that I could see into her mindset and read exactly what she was feeling when she thought out situations. Her thoughts flowed well and moved the book along very quickly. Cassandra's narrative voice is wonderful. She is serious at times, but also very witty, which makes for an engaging read. It feels absolutely real, as though I'm reading someone's actual journal. Sometimes I forget that I am reading a story and not a real-life account. Her emotions and the dialogue are so genuine, and they are spot-on for a seventeen-year-old girl in her situation. Cassandra has many wonderful insights on life, on topics ranging from writing to faith to matters of the heart. I personally have had some of the same thoughts as Cassandra, except Ms. Smith was able to put them into words. Capture the Castle should be essential reading for aspiring writers, those looking for historical fiction or romance, or anyone who loves reading amazing classic books. Dodie Smith is an exceptional writer, and I Capture the Castle is a book that will never become obsolete.

This title has:

Great messages
age 12+

Never out of print in the UK!

This isn't a 'lost classic' in Britain, it's a pure classic. And her name isn't Cassie (she's never, ever called that in the book - don't dumb down, it's self-defeating as kids who read this will have to get used to her name) it's Cassandra. People here name their daughters after her. It is an amazing book and a rite of passage read for a great many British girls to this day. I don't know that every American family will understand it - but I hope you do in the same was that we here understand To Kill A Mockingbird. Something from a different place and a different time, but that speaks to all of us. Enjoy.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Book Details

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