I started this post and then realized what I was writing was a total lie. What I began to say is that: “There are books that I really wish I read when I was younger, as my younger self would have devoured them.” I was going to count I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith as one of these books, but I realized that I’m being nostalgic for a kid I never was. The kid I was wouldn’t really have gotten into I Capture the Castle, I was too busy reading science fiction and fantasy to mess with “girlie books”. But I love the book now, and reading it made me wish I could have read it when I was younger, and made me wish my younger self would have liked it. That’s more true I guess.
I Capture the Castle is a delightful coming of age story that is as unpredictable as it is poignant. The main character, Cassandra, is charming and endearing (a fact noted on the front cover by a big quote from J.K. Rowling; something that made me almost not buy the book, because really, it made the design quite ugly) and someone I’d like to know in real life. She and her family live in a house on the edge of a rundown castle, and the book consists of Cassie’s attempts to capture portraits of her family and the castle in writing. Her family is eccentric and loveable, and their lives are thrown into disarray when a pair of brothers moves in nearby. The elder brother is quite rich, leading Cassie’s older sister to decide to marry him in order to support her family. Cassie’s father was a one-hit-wonder as a writer, and as the money from his book runs out, the family lives in deeper poverty. As Cassie tries to make sense of everything around her, she grows up as a person and a writer. Her insights and growth make this book one of those that rings resoundingly true. This is a book I’ll reread again and again.
I’m currently reading Castle in the Air, the follow-up to Howl’s Moving Castle. This truly is one of those I wish I read as a child, and I find myself invoking my mom’s habit of reading us a chapter of a book before we went to bed. This book is perfect for that, although that’s making the amount of time it’s taking to finish it substantially longer. It’s one I’ll be reading to my kids, once I’ve got some.
For those of you keeping track, and possibly making comments on your own blogs that authors of books I was reading but set aside might see, I only put aside Nancy Mitford’s Christmas Pudding because I was almost done with it and was leaving on a trip, so needed the space it would take up for a book that would take longer to read. Not that Nancy Mitford could read any such blogs, seeing as I’m almost absolutely positive that she’s no longer with us, and if she is still around then she’s way too old to figure out the internet.
I have no such excuse for Misfortune. If you’re reading this Mr. Stace, it’s not you, it’s me. I’m sorry. I’ll finish it soon. I promise. And I love your music. 🙂
Just Finished: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Currently Reading: Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones