A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that I Capture the Castle, a lost classic by the author of The Hundred and One Dalmatians, was originally published for an adult audience but is appropriate for today's young teens and older. A bestseller in 1948, the book was out of print for many years and subsequently gained a reputation as a favorite to pass from generation to generation and as being one of the most requested books at used book stores. Trumpeted by authors such as Christopher Isherwood, Armistead Maupin, Joanna Trollope, and J.K. Rowling, it was finally reprinted in 1996 (and made into a movie in 2004). Though much of the focus of the story is on the marital prospects of Cassie's older sister, the dated concept makes sense for the time period, and Cassie's own concerns about life and love are still entirely relatable.
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What's the story?
Cassie and her family moved to the castle and adjacent Belmotte Tower when her father was at the height of his writing success; since then their circumstances have been considerably reduced. With most of the furniture sold, the shabbiest of clothes, and barely enough to eat, Cassie wonders in the pages of her journal how anything will ever change. Enter Simon and Neil Cotton, the rich American young men who have recently taken up residency in nearby Scoatney Hall. Cassie herself notes the similarity to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and wonders if an advantageous match might be made for her older sister Rose. More important, however, the new neighbors give Cassie something to write about, and Cassie's journal is the platform that lets readers get to know the charming narrator and her eccentric family.
Is it any good?
Cassie's engaging voice in I CAPTURE THE CASTLE has a surprisingly contemporary feel for a novel written more than 60 years ago. Although Cassie will seem naive compared to a modern 17-year-old, her innocence is understandable given the time period and the isolation in which she was brought up (she states at one point that she knows no girls except her sister, her stepmother, and characters from books). Not what you'd call an action-packed novel, I Capture the Castle is nevertheless beautifully paced, with just the right mixture of introspection and action that moves the plot forward.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why I Capture the Castle is considered a lost classic. Why do some older books still resonate with today's young readers?
Cassie loved her home. What do you think best part about living in a castle be? What would the worst part be?
Not only did Cassie live in a time before computers and cell phones, the castle had no electricity! How would you pass the time if you lived in that situation?
When the Americans come to visit, it makes Cassie look at England differently, though she's always lived there. Has anything ever made you to look at your home in a new way?
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