My Review of I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Date Finished: 16th February 2013

Book Challenge 2013 Number: 13

Rating: 4 stars
It’s definitely going to be a lazy Sunday for me, have for the moment got no immediately pressing work to complete and am feeling a bit rough around the edges. Think I’ll turn to some Shakespeare today for a bit of reading in bed with the IPod on shuffle. 
I Capture the Castle is certainly an intriguing read, following the Mortmain family mainly through the eyes of Cassandra in their old, dilapidated castle. Mr Mortmain took out a 40 year lease on it, hoping it would soothe his chronic writers block after he can’t seem to write anything after his first book. Jacob Wrestling. He lives there with his 2 daughters Rose and Cassandra, his son Thomas, his second wife Topaz and Stephen, who helps out around the house and is desperately in love with Cassandra. Money is extremely tight for them, and Rose in particular craves a luxurious lifestyle. Then the Cotton brothers turn up, Neil and Simon. Simon is the heir to a considerable fortune, which could rescue the family from their dire financial situation…
This book was such a charming one to read, and literary-enthusiast Cassandra makes for a great narrator. I especially love the first line of the entire novel ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink’. She tells the story as she sees it, and feels that ‘capturing’ everything around her and learning to speed write will lead to her literary ambitions of becoming an author. 
My favourite character from I Capture the Castle would definitely have to be Cassandra herself, she’s a typical late teenage girl wanting things she can’t have, but she’s not typical in so many ways. She has a lot of burden placed upon her which forces her to mature in order to help out to make life a little easier for the entire family. Their situation isn’t helped by Mr Mortmain himself, who for the first half of the book doesn’t appear to do much.
I absolutely adored the ending, which was a lovely surprise (and I won’t be giving it away). You feel a sense of elation on Cassandra’s behalf and also extremely sorry for poor Simon.
Definitely a recommended read 🙂

Quick Little Update & My Book Haul

So to update you guys on what is going on in my reading life since finishing reading Les Miserables, here is a little blog post for you.

I’ve started reading ‘The Distant Echo’ by Val McDermid, and am over 60% of the way through already. A combination of having too much time on my hands this week plus Val McDermid being one of my all time favourite authors. Every book of hers I’ve read, I have never been disappointed and fallen in love with it with such rapture that I have been capable of finishing it within days. I thoroughly recommend any of her books, especially her stand-alone novels such as Trick of the Dark and the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series.

I hope to have finished this book by tomorrow or Friday, and have my review of it posted on here before I head back to university. I’m unsure of what to read next, but given that I got 2 more Val McDermid books for Christmas it might be a good idea before diving into something more challenging. I want to ease into my first few weeks back at university whilst keeping up my reading, and Val McDermid is always a fool-proof way of having that reassuring, familiar style with you that fits nicely into your life.

And as for my book haul, this is a combination of books I got for Christmas and some I bought afterwards:

Grantchester Grind by Tom Sharpe – I read the first book ‘Porterhouse Blue’ two years ago and didn’t really get the style of humour. So I reread it a couple of months ago and immediately understood the wit. I can’t wait to read the sequel and delve into the mishaps of Skullion once more.

The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid – Need I say more? Her most recent book which I’m dying to read.

A Place of Execution by Val McDermid – Doesn’t need much explanation again

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbovsky – I’ve heard that this is meant to be good, although my friend Amy wasn’t very overwhelmed by it, I thought I would give it a try.

Bring Up The Bodies by Hillary Mantel – I read the prequel to this ‘Wolf Hall’ just after Christmas, and although some people weren’t keen on Mantel’s style of writing, I was part of the wide reaching club who adored her characterisation of Thomas Cromwell. In my opinion a worthy winner of the Booker Prize.

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling – Because like every Harry Potter fan, I am curious about her foray into writing for adults rather than children and adolescents.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey – My old sociology teacher said that the film for this was brilliant and really let you into the sociological ideas behind ‘madness’ and whether it is real or socially constructed. I had to write an essay for my History of Medicine course at university last term on madness being a form of social control, so I figured this would be a read I would enjoy.

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux – I haven’t seen the musical, yet, but after my experience with Les Miserables, I think it will be nice to read the book before I delve into the musical instead of the vice versa process I adopted with Les Miserables.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith – This was one of my recommendations based on my orders from Amazon, so I thought I would give this book a go. What swung it for me was that my best friend Amy planned on reading it too. I always like reading something that Amy’s read or planning to read because we like similar books and always have a good chat about what we think of books we both happen to have read.

The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith – This book was raised in one of my historiography lectures as the writer apparently started a Victorian interest in the history of every day individuals who were not important, changing the paradigm that history is the history of dead white men. Should be an interesting read at any rate.

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton – I read one of Lupton’s other books ‘Sister’ when it was recommended to me by my nan. I loved it that much that I decided to buy this one and read it in the not so distant future.

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J.Watson – Yet another recommendation on my Amazon account, but I find the concept really intriguing so I figure I’ll love the book. I do love a bit of surrealism.

The Penguin Book of the Renaissance by John Plumb – A core text (or so I’m told) for my module this term of ‘Renaissance Courts’. Mixed feelings about how I will find it, the period is generally one that fascinates me (Tudors and Sir Thomas More), I’m not sure I’ll enjoy some aspects of it. But the other choices I had for different modules wasn’t as broad as I wanted. To be honest, I think this will be my favourite module out of the 3 I’m doing this term (Renaissance Courts, Victorian Britain and Medicine and Empire)

Hope wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, you’re thinking about reading and/or reading