book crush thursday: I Capture the Castle

There were moments when my deep and loving pity for her merged into a desire to kick her fairly hard. -- Cassandra

The one Bach piece I learnt made me feel I was being repeatedly hit on the head with a teaspoon. -- Cassandra

I'm a little afraid of discussing this book, because I'm half certain that I'll just lapse into exclamation points, which, while fun to type, won't convince anyone of anything.

So I'll try to contain myself. Ahem.

I found I Capture the Castle (by Dodie Smith) mostly by accident. I heard a few people talking about it, and on a whim, I decided to pick it up. I can't remember what I was expecting from the novel, but I quickly promoted it to the ranks of my favorites.

This is one of the quirkiest books I've read, and also one of the most endearing. Any attempt at explaining the plot falls flat--I suppose it's the bittersweet story of a family living in a castle, dealing with poverty, frustration, tea time, new neighbors, and great hopes...

But the reason I love it is because it is a story told by Cassandra Mortmain.

And Cassandra is one of the narrators I most hope to meet, in some book-heaven where we shake hands with our favorite characters. If I manage to write a character half as entertaining and unique as Cassandra, I'll call myself a pretty decent writer.

She somehow manages to be poignant, insightful, and shockingly funny, often at the same time. Her voice is fresh enough to be completely new, but she's also true: I could relate to her at every turn.

(I think that Cassandra's narrative brilliance is the main reason why I didn't like the movie. They still tried to keep her voice in the story, but you saw the events of the tale first, and heard her voice secondarily. In the novel, it's reversed: her voice is the high point and the light by which you see the story. That makes all the difference.)

Recommendation: Savor I Capture the Castle with a good flavored black tea. I prefer Monks Blend: black tea with vanilla and grenadine... the perfect complement.

Tea, this novel, and a rainy afternoon: that's a big cup of perfect.

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