Saturday, November 08, 2008

Book Review: "I Capture the Castle"

I Capture the Castle I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
I Capture the Castle is a fictional story written from the viewpoint of a young woman writing in her journal. It takes place in a run down old castle in the middle of the English countryside. Her family is in difficult circumstances because their father has not earned any income in years and they have sold everything they can just to get by.

I am trying to decide what I really think about this book. There is a part of me that liked it and a part of me that is just left wanting more. The book began slow for me, but I was intrigued by the setting of an old castle in the English countryside as well as the simpler time the story took place. There is a certain wistful romance about it all even in the midst of the troubles the characters were encountering. I tend to think that this is why the book is as popular as it is.

However, because we were privy to the innermost thoughts of the main character, Cassandra, through her journal writings, I expected to see more depth and spiritual growth within her. Generally, hard and trying circumstances, such as she was facing, would force a person to grow and mature emotionally. I didn’t see as much of that as I would have liked in her. That goes for the other characters, as well.


The Characters:

*Cassandra seems intelligent and capable. I often wondered throughout the story why she spent the majority of her time only lollygagging around daydreaming and writing in her journal. Surely there were things she could have been doing. It seemed that she let Topaz and Stephen do the lion’s share of the household and garden work for her. She never seemed to make much effort to try and better her circumstances.

*Sweet Stephen was someone you had to love. He had such virtuous characteristics. He was hard working and loyal. It was so disappointing to see him taken advantage of.

*Rose played the part of the air-headed, self-centered sister well. She did not contribute any depth to the story.

*Topaz was difficult to understand. We never got to really see the depths of her thoughts and her actions were just a mystery to me throughout most of the story.

*The father. I don’t even know what to say about the father. He may have had some spark of genius in him, but his self-centered ways definitely squelched it. He was to blame for all of their poor circumstances, yet he took no responsibility and went about his days seeking only to please his own needs and everyone else just coddled him and let him. Well, that is until they locked him in the tower. ;-)

*The Cotton brothers. I don’t fully understand them either. It seems to me that they would have taken one look at this crazy family and ran. But they kept coming back. Something drew them to the castle and this family. Because of this I kept looking for the redeeming qualities in the characters and trying to put myself in their shoes.

At the end of the book I was really looking for some big emotional growth, in the characters. Rose remained flighty and self-centered. The father at least matured enough to finish a book and hopefully step up to his duties of supporting his family. Cassandra was the one I held out the most hope for. I suppose the fact that she did not run off and marry Simon showed some strength of character, but it was disappointing to find her at the end of the book in nearly the same place physically and emotionally as she was at the beginning.

Overall, there were parts of the book I really enjoyed. I think most of those are when I could get swept away in the romance of it all. Ultimately, the book left me wishing for more. The romance faded away and I was left holding a book wondering if it was worth my time to read.

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