What makes the perfect autumn read? For me, it’s the English moors, and poetic wordsmithing, and coming of age, and unrequited love in the most romantic way. Dodie Smith, author of Hundred and One Dalmations, crafts I Capture the Castle with the hands of a master, and it couldn’t be lovelier.
It’s 1934, and 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain is a writer, but not a very good one yet. Tired of writing weak poetry and forced, lifeless stories that don’t even interest her, she takes up shorthand and begins journaling her life in a crumbling castle in the English countryside. Her father is a has-been famous author who stopped writing after his brilliant first book, and is immune to the cries from the public (and his penniless family) to begin his work again. A savior comes in the unlikely form of some brand new American next door neighbors, and as Cassandra chronicles the budding romances between certain members of the two families, she works to capture both her reader and her characters, and inevitably, herself.
I absolutely adore Cassandra. She is very relatable, and brutally honest with herself, whether it’s about her writing, her faith (or lack thereof), her family, or the very handsome, very wealthy new bachelors next door. She is quite emotionally self-aware, and while that doesn’t often work very well—no one really wants TOO much pontificating and soul-searching, as it makes the character too predictable—with Cassandra it’s refreshing and a comfort. She felt like a genuinely charming, perfectly imperfect person I really want to meet in real life, and I found myself falling in love, breaking my heart, and capturing the Castle right alongside her.
Candid and funny, this is a coming of age/historical drama/Jane Austen romance novel that is best served with chunky knit socks and a crackling fire. Let this cozy read capture you!