I Capture the Castle

  • by Dodie Smith
  • Narrated by Jenny Agutter
  • 12 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

"I write this sitting at the kitchen sink" is the first line of a novel about love, sibling rivalry, and a bohemian existence in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. Cassandra Mortmin's journal records her fadingly glamorous stepmother, her beautiful, wistful older sister, and the man to whom they owe both their isolation and poverty: Father. The author of one experimental novel, and a minor cause celebre, he has since suffered from writer's block and is determined to drag his family down with him. But if the iron has entered Father's soul, it hasn't penetrated Cassandra's.

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What the Critics Say

"A good story, flourishing characters, and the most persuasive narrative voice." (Guardian [London])
"This book has one of the most charismatic narrators I've ever met." (J.K. Rowling)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Well, that was a surprise

Truth be told, I felt a little duped when I first started "I Capture The Castle". It had been recommended to me by one of those "You Might Like" algorithms, and I made the purchase impulsively (and uncharacteristically) with absolutely zero research. Almost instantly I realised “Capture” was unlike any other novel I'd read before, and I was baffled by the recommendation. I'm not drawn to novels in this genre, but all I can say is that I absolutely loved every moment inside Cassandra’s journal. I even feel a small sense of loss that I won't be spending any more time with the inhabitants of Scoatney Village, who feel so incredibly alive to me now.

I've subsequently done a little research on the book, and I can see it featuring on lists like "Classics All Young Girls Should Read" etc... This makes me a little embarrassed, as I'm a middle-aged man. I suppose I can understand some dismissing this as a “charming little girls book"—it is a tad heavy on young romance, first loves, stolen kisses, exciting marriage proposals (Dear God, I'm cringing as I write). But what a pity if they did pigeon-hole it that way; it has way more to offer. It is witty, thoughtful, clever and genuinely laugh-out-loud funny at times. And the characters are so deeply drawn, I guess I didn’t mind all the accompanying histrionics.

I should say that I did live in the UK for many years, so I know my nostalgia for the English countryside enhanced my enjoyment. My favourite quote: “It came to me that Hyde Park has never belonged to London - that it has always been , in spirit, a stretch of countryside; and that it links the Londons of all periods together most magically - by remaining forever unchanged at the heart of a ever-changing town.”

Loyal fans of the book have admired this audio version, and I totally support all praise for Jenny Agutter. This is a flawless narration and I can’t imagine a better way to enjoy this book.

Oh and—by the way—I think I’ve now realized why the algorithm recommended the book to me in the first place. I had “Cold Comfort Farm” listed as a favourite, and it’s only now that I’m starting to see the synchronicities between these two novels.
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- Matthew

A modern romance that doesn't fall into clichés

Seventeen year-old Cassandra Mortmaine keeps a journal in which she introduces us to her family, which has the privilege of living in a beautiful, albeit crumbling English castle. Her family are so poor none of them ever get enough to eat, they all wear tattered clothes and most of the furniture has long ago been sold off. Things haven't always been so dire, because once upon a time her father published a successful novel and they lived very comfortably, but many years have gone by since then and instead of working on a new project, he sits in his study obsessively reading mystery novels, insisting that he'll never write again. Their young stepmother Topaz makes a very meagre income as an artist's model, but that won't keep any of them fed and warm. Sister Rose is a rare beauty, and might have hopes of making a good marriage and pulling them all out of their misery, but of course there aren't any eligible men around, nor are there likely to be any in this small country town where nothing ever happens. Nothing happens that is, until one day two men show up at the door unannounced, wanting to take a tour of the castle. We know things are going to change drastically with this new arrival, and they do. But while Cassandra struggles with new feelings—the novel threatened at that point, to my great annoyance, to become a teenage angst-ridden paean to unrequited love—there were plenty of surprises in store so that by the end I was very sorry to lose such a likeable narrator. Though it was written in the 1940s, this is a very modern romance that doesn't fall into clichés. I absolutely loved Jenny Agutter's narration and will seek out other books read by her.
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- Ilana

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-14-2006
  • Publisher: Audible Studios