This Cassandra Must Be Heard


"I Capture the Castle" by Dodie Smith is as delightful a book as I have ever read, and I'm not a person who often calls things delightful. Published in 1948, the book is filled with oddballs. If you liked "Little Miss Sunshine" or "The Royal Tenenbaums" then you might like this book.

The main character, Cassandra Mortmain, is a 17-year-old British girl whose family has fallen on hard times. Her purportedly brilliant father wrote a ground-breaking book several years ago. Because he has written nothing since, everyone wonders why, but dares not ask him directly. Leave it to a bunch of Americans and their forward ways to shake things up and talk about the obvious.

The castle is just that--a neglected, badly remodeled, previously grand mess that the Mortmain family rented when times were good. That was years ago when they had the money and energy to rehab the place properly. All the furniture has been sold and the family subsists on meager rations. That is, until the aforementioned Americans arrive.

Cassandra Mortmain is a wonderful character whose growing pains are the book's focus. Dodie Smith's depiction of Cassandra's emotional life will strike a chord with women--young and old--who are going through the wringer or just remembering the power of unrequited love.

--Julie C., Headquarters

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