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I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  

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January 2015 Guest Editor Harriet Evans on I Capture the Castle...

This is probably my favourite novel. It gives something new every time I reread it. At first it’s ‘just’ a story of a deliciously eccentric family living in a crumbling castle in a beautiful English village (and that’d be quite enough for me!) but it’s so much more than that. It’s about broken families, class, England before the war, and most importantly and daringly it’s about a young girl’s burgeoning sexuality.

If you like Dodie Smith you might also like to read books by Meg Rosoff.

Synopsis

I Capture the Castle by 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...


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Reviews

'There are many good reasons to read Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle: it provides excellent advice about dressing on a budget (dye all your clothes sea-green); how to cope when the man you love falls for your elder sister (keep a diary) and your stepmother dances naked in the rain (ditto). Given that most teenagers believe their parents to be mad - and vice versa - the novel also serves as a helpful guide to recognising the fine line between eccentricity and outright insanity' Guardian

'A book for anyone who is young, poor, fed up and yearning for something exciting to happen' Irish Times

'When I read I Capture the Castle it immediately became one of my favourite novels of all time, and I was very annoyed that nobody had told me about it before' -- J.K Rowling

'Unputdownable and loved by teenagers and adults everywhere'. Observer

'Everyone I've passed it on to has found it a hit - it works every time, for absolutely everybody' -- Nigella Lawson

About the Author

Dodie Smith was born in Manchester in 1896. Aged 17 she set off for London, determined to become an actress, but she struggled to find work, living off baked beans in freezing hostels. While working at the famous Heals department store, Dodie turned to writing plays instead, and her first was an overnight sensation - the newspapers excitedly declared 'Shopgirl Turns Playwright!'. During the war she moved to Hollywood with her husband, and it was there, spurned on by regret and homesickness for the English countryside she'd left behind, that Dodie began writing I Capture the Castle. When a friend gave Dodie a dalmatian puppy (presented in a hat box!) this began a life-long love of the spotty dogs. Dodie's well-loved novel 101 Dalmatians was inspired by her experiences of raising fifteen puppies. She lived in a ramshackle cottage with her husband and many other animals until her death in 1990, aged 94.

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Book Info

Publication date

2nd August 2012

Author

Dodie Smith

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Publisher

Vintage Children's Classics an imprint of Vintage

Format

Paperback
592 pages
Interest Age: From 12 to 17 years

Categories

Literary Fiction
Family Drama
eBook Favourites

Classic fiction (Children's / Teenage)

ISBN

9780099572886

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