Review: I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

i-capture-the-castleThis book opens with the line ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.  That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining board…’ and I thought to myself “yes, I’m going to like this”, I just wish I could say that the book as a whole matched up to that. To be honest, that opening line was my favourite part of the whole book!

The premise is good but the book itself wasn’t what I was expecting. If I’m honest, I think I was so excited for this book having read so many good reviews that I felt it a disappointment. I feel bad for not liking this as much as I apparently should have, but at least I tried to love it!

It was a pretty quick read – I read most of it over 4 bus journeys, and I’m glad I read it, but it won’t be a book I revisit any time soon.

This book is written as a diary and our narrator is 17 year old Cassandra who wants to be a writer one day. She is writing a diary after rather unsuccessful attempts at writing poetry, and hopes that in ‘capturing the castle’ she will teach herself to write a novel. Naturally, as she’s writing about her surroundings, this book is filled with description of scenery and atmospherics which is probably the best bit. Journalistic style writing is something I can take or leave, I found this particular book I struggled with the naive voice of Cassandra. I found her so irritating when it came to personal matters that it really made this book so much more difficult to enjoy. When a narrator is just driving you mad, it’s pretty hard to enjoy a book.

I’ve read a lot of comparison to Pride and Prejudice and I think that’s fair. I don’t particularly like P&P and I don’t particularly like this too much either; I can see the parallels! I hate when I love very beloved books, I feel pressure to like them and I feel that is half of the issue here. I want to like it so badly and feel guilty for not liking it too much!

I feel that maybe if I had read this 3 or 4 years ago, when I was around the same age as Cassandra, I would have enjoyed it but being older on my first voyage in to this book, no. It’s not for me. 2.5/5

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