Skip to main content
PBS logo

Book Reviews of I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle
I Capture the Castle
Author: Dodie Smith
The Market's bargain prices are even better for Paperbackswap club members!
Retail Price: $15.99
Buy New (Paperback): $12.79 (save 20%) or
Become a PBS member and pay $8.89+1 PBS book credit Help icon(save 44%)
ISBN-13: 9780312201654
ISBN-10: 0312201656
Publication Date: 5/1999
Pages: 352
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 154 ratings
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

31 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 164 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 13
Overall, lovely!

The back-of-the-book-blurb above leaves out a lot! Cassie's family is very bohemian, and in spite of what living in a castle might leave you to believe, the setting is the 1930's. I'm amazed that's when it was actually written -- it seems more like something written today set in that period. It's pretty wild to think that the author of "101 Dalmations" wrote a novel in the 1940's where the step-mother (an artists' model, when she's working) likes to commune with nature by walking naked through the countryside! She gets seen, too!

This was really an enchanting read. The writing is beautiful, and while there are a few slow spots, I found myself putting other things aside to leap back into this book whenever I could. I can see why people connect Jane Austen to this book -- the main characters are even Austen fans! -- but I liked this much better. I would have preferred a little more specific information at the end, but that may just be my desire to have every little detail spelled out for me.

Anyway, highly recommended! I can see why the literary reviewers are calling this one a modern classic, and for once it's even a classic I like!
reviewed I Capture the Castle on
Helpful Score: 7
I loved, loved, loved this novel. It is written from the point of view of a teenager, but contrary to my fears, I found Cassandra's concerns, excitements, and anxieties to be endearing and realistic. In fact, I believe she will become one of my favorite characters--rather reminds me of Elizabeth Bennet. In fact, comparing this novel to Jane Austen is not far off the mark--with an honest, sparky heroine surrounded by wealthy bachelors, quirky family characters, and a plot filled with will-he-or-won't-he social situations. Do not let the 1948 pub date put you off, Cassandra is a very modern and honest narrator.
Suzanne-Michele avatar reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 51 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Charming. This would make an excellent youth/young adult book for a teenage girl looking for romance, a budding aglophile, or anyone who can appreciate a sweet coming of age story.

No graphic sex, only a couple kisses with stars in their eyes. refreshing!
reviewed I Capture the Castle on
Helpful Score: 5
I thoroughly enjoyed this timeless love story. I was so impressed by the writers skillful ability to describe the scene and feelings of the main character/narrator. I thought the book was a delightful read and I thought the plot was interesting as well as realistic. A true love story!
smokeythecat avatar reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This is a wonderful story....very unique and makes you wish she had written dozens of books. It's a gem. It's the kind of book to read when you want to escape everything and pretend again. It's a young adult book which I originally purchased from my teenage daughter's school book order. I wish I had discovered it when in my teens, but I'm so happy I found it!! One of a kind!
skywriter319 avatar reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 784 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Once in a while you'll come across a book that really resounds with you and stays on your mind for days after you've read it. I CAPTURE THE CASTLE is this type of book. Cassandra is a wonderfully witty and thoughtful narrator, the early-twentieth-century equivalent of Jessica Darling, for fans of Megan McCafferty's writings. It's hard to put this book down, and Cassandra will be a protagonist you will want to emulate and be friends with.
reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Very touching and funny. There is a movie that does a fair job of "capturing" the book.
reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 287 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I loved this book. The narrator is so fresh, amusing, and although perhaps somewhat consciously naive, I enjoyed reading her journal, even if I wasn't absolutely satisfied by the ending.
reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 109 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
a classic - somewhat in the style of Jane Austen - with a likeable, upbeat 17-year-old narrator detailing the life of their family living in financial difficulties in an old castle.
Shellaree avatar reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 270 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
17 year old Cassandra Mortmain and her eccentric family are stuggling to survive in a decaying castlin the Englih countryside. Scribbling furiously, dreamily, frustratedly in her notebooks, Cassandra captures the familyl's madly bohemian way of life. There's Topaz, her stepmothe, whose naked moonlight romps are legendary, desperately sophisticated Rose, Cassandra's older sister, whose longing for new tea dresses almost surpased her physical hunger and Father, a sometime writer, grwly and obdurate in the face of his dessicated creativity.
Then the wealthy Cottons become their neighbors and their lives begin to change.
This is an interesting book, especially to read as an adult. It is a peek into the life of a odd family and the viewpoint of the younger daughter. It shows the dawning of first love and all the emotions that go with it. For me, it had echoes of the Anne Frank diaries, in that she gives voice to her feelings and we go right along with her.
just-heidi avatar reviewed I Capture the Castle on
Helpful Score: 1
What a wonderful book! I found that I couldn't put it down. The book was well written, easy to read, and the scenes were described so well that I could see every little detail and feel the emotions of the characters. Goes to show that emotions and feelings of the human race are the same, no matter what era we live.
pherrmann avatar reviewed I Capture the Castle on
Helpful Score: 1
An absolutely delightful read! Beautifully written, well-paced, the characters deeply drawn. When the book ended,there was no "happily ever after ending" but the opening of a new chapter in the main character's life that left me wishing for a sequel.
ColdSnap avatar reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 13 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
What a fun, lovely book! I initially picked this up on a recommendation from one of the members of GoodReads in The Next Best Book Club. Having read both [book:The 101 Dalmatians|511614] and [book:The Starlight Barking|31964] when I was a child, I was intrigued about reading a novel by the same author. I was not disappointed!

Written in a journal style, the reader gets a glimpse into the mind of Cassandra Mortmain, a charming and interesting girl living with her unorthodox family in a crumbling house attached to a fourteenth century castle. The setting may be unusual, but Cassandra's coming of age tale is very typical, although charmingly so.

So as to avoid spoilers, as half the fun of reading this book is meeting the characters and reading Cassandra's attempts to describe both her situation and her surroundings, I will only say that this was great read, and I recommend it.
Readnmachine avatar reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 1439 more book reviews
The lives of two sisters, living with their eccentric family in a tumbledown castle in 1930s England, are turned inside-out with the arrival of their new landlords -- two extremely eligible young Americans.
reviewed I Capture the Castle on
The descriptions of the landscapes are beautiful, and the main character is plucky and enduring. As a growing-up novel, it's interesting to watch the progress of the main character throughout the novel; if you're looking for a riveting plot, however, you'll find it a little lacking.
reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 224 more book reviews
I thought this was a charming book. It was well-written, imaginative, and fun to read.
donnamig avatar reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 16 more book reviews
A splendidly whimsical coming-of-age story that was, unfortunately, very poorly adapted for the movie. Cassandra, a budding writer, vows to "capture" her eccentric family in her journal. Instead, she ends up writing both romance and a mystery. By turns wildly funny and deeply sad, I recommend this book particularly for women 13 and up.
sophiesperspective avatar reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 141 more book reviews
Interesting in the telling, but lacks moral compass

I read this book because I loved Dodie's 101 Dalmatians. I almost didn't read it because the cover noted that the movie based off the book is the "most romantic" one of the year...and Im not really into romance books or movies. Inatead of acquiring it, like I was contemplating, I decided to compromise and check it from the library first.

A good decision.

First - what I liked: Dodie writes in a very engaging way and kept me interested in the story. I lived the descriptions of surroundings and the attempt to "capture" people. The first third of the book was the best.

What I didn't like: so many wrong/misdirected/immoral (or as the character puts it "wicked") choices made! Not only is nobody "falling in love" with the right people, but everyone seems further to make romantic encounters with people they do NOT love - in part because of (real or imagined) spurred love. Basically, its a soap opera in book form.

While there are astute observations about romantic conundrums and situations, there lacks a moral compass to chide, convict, and guide that was most disappointing.

And the ending - what a letdown! Im not sure how some have said its uplifting, I found it depressing, though it showed a kind of fortitude.

The telling of the story deserves 5 stars, the content (particularly as it pertains morally/guiding the youth in their choices) deserves 1 star. The remaining content deserves 3 stars for a book average of 2.5 stars. For all of its interest in conveying the story, I cannot recommend it because of the moral failings and how they are presented. Quite disappointing.
Kmarie avatar reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 529 more book reviews
Wonderful book set in ENgland, in an old, crumbling cottage. Good story about a teenage girl coming of age.
reviewed I Capture the Castle on
This book was just ok, I didn't really like the characters, but loved the scenery and all and all, not the best read.
reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 15 more book reviews
excellent story about young love
reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 8 more book reviews
This book is a fascinating look into happenings in a small English countryside village in the 1930s or 40s. The 17 year old narrator lives in not-so-genteel poverty in an old castle. This book is narrated by her as she writes a journal in order to learn how to be a writer. Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowlings, said "This book has one of the most carismatic narrators I've ever met," and I whole-heartedly agree! You will be charmed.
RobbieM avatar reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 71 more book reviews
A quirky, off-beat love story told by a 17 year-old girl from the heart of an eccentric English family. It's a story that is truly fun to read.
reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 10 more book reviews
Sweet story! I really enjoyed reading this book and was dissapointed to find that the only other thing the author has published is 101 Dalmations. Bummer. I would have loved to read more by her.
reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 224 more book reviews
This book tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle, Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills. She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries. Her journals candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle's walls, and her own first descent into love. By the time she pens her vinal entry, she has 'captured the castle' - and the heart of the reader - in one of literature's most enchanting entertainments.
Bonus: Reading Group Discussion Guide included in this edition.
reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 10 more book reviews
I was recommended this book by other voracious readers in my book club. It is an interesting read and well written. I like the author's choice of narrator - provides a different perspective on the story.
reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 15 more book reviews
I wish there had been pictures. I really enjoyed this book, and I also really wished there was a sequel. Although I guess I can spend time imagining what happened to the characters after the novel was through. :)
reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 14 more book reviews
This was an interesting look into a disfuntional family that managed to get by. Beautiful setting and unique plot.
reviewed I Capture the Castle on
Story - OK.
Writing style/humor - Great!!
reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 5 more book reviews
I started reading the book, but it didn't grab my interest.
reviewed I Capture the Castle on + 3 more book reviews
1999 1st Edition. Different cover than pictured, but same book.. go figure? =) Any who, she's in B+ condition with a few dog ears is all.