Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Youth Classic Review: I Capture the Castle


Another middle grade (or YA) classic review.
Title: I Capture the Castle
Author: Dodie Smith
Publisher: Little, Brown, 1948, 343 pages.  I actually read an ebook version.
Source: Open Library (on-line library resource)

Seventeen-year-old Cassandra lives with her family in a crumbling castle in England, where they struggle to make ends meet with no visible means of support.  Her father is a writer who can't seem to write a second book, and she, too, has some aspirations to writing.  Thus, the "journal" she keeps of what turns out to be a crucial period in their lives.
I found the story both engaging and trite at times, sometimes at the same times.  The author did manage to avoid the obvious ending I saw coming from the mid-point, which made for a pleasant surprise.  The style is dated, but not excessively so, and the idea is original.  Characters are fresh and unique, well-drawn even through the eyes of the rather naive narrator.  This is a love story, but only sometimes.  The rest of the time it is a coming-of-age story, and sometimes just a jolly good yarn.  Overall, this classic holds up well.

The age of the protagonist and the subject matter (love as well as other life issues) makes this more YA than middle grade, but the circumspect writing of another time (a time when a girl of 17 wasn't a sophisticated adult) makes it acceptable for any age. It's an interesting read for the sake of the historical style and context.   It may be of as much or more interest to adults who remember reading it or similar books long, long ago, rather than to children, though any child or teen who read it will get a glimpse of a vanished world.

Full Disclosure: I checked I Capture the Castle out of my (virtual) library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


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