Saturday, June 5, 2010
I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
I admit I checked out this book because it had an endorsement on the cover by J.K. Rowling that said, "This book has one of the most charismatic narrators I've ever met." People may debate Rowling's literary genius, but I figure she has some pretty charismatic characters herself - and I generally adore child narrators - which I assumed this book would have. In fact, the narrator is 17-year old Cassandra Mortmain who tells the story of her impoverished family, as they live in a decaying castle in England in the 1930s. Cassandra's father is a once famous writer, who suffers from insurmountable writer's block after publishing his masterpiece years earlier. He married a young model after Cassandra's mother passed away when she and her older sister, Rose, were just children. An American family, the Cottons, become the Mortmain's new landlords - and the two sisters became entralled with the two Cotton brothers. Like the Jane Austen novels they are obsessed with, the sisters hatch an elaborate plan to make one of the brothers fall in love with Rose - but of course, things are not so easy when it comes to matters of the heart - and there are shifting allegiances and romances all over the place. While Cassandra is clever for her age, she is still a fairly isolated teenager, and at times her naivete becomes tedious. But, while I don't agree with Rowling that Cassandra is the most charismatic narrator I've ever read, she is quite endearing, and this is a great book for those who love novels set in the English countryside, with lots of tea and frustrating romantic drama.