A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers may pick up on narrator Cassie's frequent literary references, especially to Jane Austen and the Brontes. Cassie's father is a postmodern novelist, and Cassie's love and respect for all the arts is a prominent theme. Though there are no obvious references to the time period, terms such as "gramophone" and "moving pictures" may give readers a hint that this takes place between the two World Wars.
Cassie takes up writing in her journal to teach herself how to write a novel, an ambition respected by her family. Intellect and creativity are valued by just about all the characters and are seen as worthy pursuits, even when not profitable. However, her family is desperately poor, and money is an issue. Cassie mostly minds because of the effect on the people around her, notably her older sister Rose. There is talk of marrying for money, but Cassie thinks love and literature are more important.
Positive Role Models
Cassie is an appealing narrator who astutely analyzes the people around her on the pages of her journal. Although she occasionally embarrasses herself, she is highly aware of her errors, and she tries her best to be kind and considerate. Her sister Rose seems somewhat mercenary at times and her father callous and selfish, but ultimately the family members have strong attachments and loyalty to one another.
Violence & Scariness
Cassie reminisces about the time her father was arrested for getting angry and brandishing a cake knife at her mother, but he didn't hurt her.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Cassie's stepmother loves to commune with nature in the nude, and Cassie tries it once. When a friend poses for an art photographer, Cassie fears that he may be compromised and "made love" to. There is some innocent kissing.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Seventeen-year-old Cassie drinks cherry brandy at an inn and wine during her celebration of Midsummer Eve, but this is accepted (and legal) in England, where the novel takes place. Her broken heart inspires her to get tipsy in one scene, and she feels terrible afterward.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.