Monday, February 4, 2013

Book Report: I Capture the Castle

I read I Capture the Castle for the first time in 2010 (it made my favorite books list) and immediately my heart ached for the whole shabby, artistic, whimsical, beautiful world of the Mortmain family, living in their tumbledown castle in Suffolk County, England. I only wish I had known this book existed as a teenager--it should definitely have a place on every girl's shelf next to Austen and Brontë and Plath. This gem's author, Dodie Smith, also wrote The Hundred and One Dalmatians--better known by its Disney title: 101 Dalmatians--a fact which amazes and delights me to no end...

Before I say anything else, I want to mention that I Capture the Castle must not be confused with my other great literary love featuring a castle in the title, We Have Always Lived in the Castle--although, with the narrator in both books being a charismatic, intelligent girl on the cusp of something (womanhood, love, literary greatness...) and the whole sister bond/ episodes featuring magic incantations, I suppose they do bear a striking similarity. No murder in I Capture though. Thank God because it's the first in a month of book reports dedicated to love stories.

He peeled a peach for me--I was glad, because it is a job I make a mess of; Simon did it beautifully. I noticed what very fine hands he has, and then I suddenly saw what Topaz meant when she once said that all his lines were good. He was wearing a white silk shirt--he had taken his coat off--and the line of his shoulders seemed exactly right with the line of his jaw (how wise Rose was to get rid of that beard!). I had the oddest feeling that I was drawing him--I knew exactly how I would do the little twist of his eyebrows, the curve where his lips pressed together as he concentrated on the peach. And as I drew each stroke in imagination, I felt it delicately traced on my own face, shoulders, arms and hands--even the folds of the shirt when I drew them seemed to touch me. But the drawn lines made no picture before my eyes--I still saw him as he was, in the flickering candlelight. -- Dodie Smith

If you enjoyed I Capture the Castle, I'm betting you'll love We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, Jane Eyre by Charolotte Brontë, and The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies. I hope your heart's all a-flutter...


  1. Thank you for this lovely tribute. I adore this book. I wish I had found it 25 years ago!


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