Enchanting, endearing, adorable, melancholic, thought-provoking, witty, charming, incredibly well-written, and perhaps a bit Austenesque. This book is one of the best coming-of-age stories ever written.
“My imagination longs to dash ahead and plan developments; but I have noticed that when things happen in one's imaginings, they never happen in one's life, so I am curbing myself.
Cassandra Mortmain resembles every hopeless young dreamer with her nonsensical writing, hopes of becoming an author and her pining for romantic Austen novels, along with fancies of wandering devils and mysterious midsummer night rituals.
Her diary serves as a close examination of the loss of her starry-eyed innocence and naivety; her romantic ideals falls flat to the ground as she steps beyond the confined walls of the castle ruins and encounter her first love.
With the bohemian family living in the castle, Smith has recreated a lost time period of blissful naturalism and happy seclusion from the pretentious masquerade balls of the society. Rose and Cassandra are sheltered from the happenings of the outside world; and the novel is split between a heartfelt longing for an everlasting idyllic childhood, and daydreams of a fashionable adult life in a hectic city. The themes of modernity opposed to naturalism is perhaps essential to the book.
“How I wish I lived in a Jane Austen novel!
The writing is completely absorbing and authentic; bittersweet and delightful. The beginning of the story is definitely very Austen-inspired and I adored it, along with all the other numerous Austen-references. In fact, "I Capture the Castle" is quite a treasure box of literary intertextuality.
Smith's writing is also magnificently funny and overwhelmingly cute. The small descriptions of the comfort a cup of hot cocoa can bring, the satisfactory feeling of a warm bath, or perhaps the wonders of beautiful music and warm summer evenings are so accurate and precise, as well as Cassandra's reflections on writing and reading. This books has so many wonderful aspects, lovely quotes and simple life wisdom to offer.
Recently I realized I didn't own a copy of "I Capture the Castle", and I hurried out to buy one. Why? Because this is one of those books, I want to be able to hug tightly to my chest, shower with kisses and reread every midsummer. This is one of those books I need to own and never ever be forced to put back on the library shelves - because some books are simply impossible to ever let go of.