I Capture the Castle

Dodie Smith

I Capture the Castle
United Kingdom
1 August 2012

I Capture the Castle

Dodie Smith

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining-board, which I have padded with our dog’s blanket and the tea-cosy.

This is the diary of Cassandra Mortmain, which tells of her extraordinary family and their crumbling castle home. Cassandra’s father was once a famous writer, but now he mainly reads detective novels while his family slide into genteel poverty. Her sister Rose is bored and beautiful, and desperate to marry riches. Their step-mother Topaz has habit of striding through the countryside wearing only her wellington boots.

But all their lives will be soon be transformed by the arrival of new neighbours from America, and Cassandra finds herself falling in love…


Cassandra Mortmain lives in a crumbling castle in the English countryside with her eccentric family. Life seems to her as though it’s just rolling on slowly – then the Cottons arrive. A wealthy American family, they have just inherited the nearby Hall.

I Capture the Castle is a beautiful and sweet coming of age novel, written when Smith was living in California during World War II. Smith’s own homesickness and nostalgia seeps through, creating a delicate and tender picture of a place and time that was already ceasing to exist even as she was writing about it.

Cassandra’s voice is so strong throughout that it cannot be possible to finish this novel and not feel as though a friend has been found for life.

Isobel Moore is from Readings St Kilda.

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