TBR Challenge: I Capture The Castle

Well darn. I didn’t make the Blog Post Day for the TBR challenge–but I have done it! The Official day for the TBR blog post was March 17, but I hadn’t finished reading the book by then. Sigh. So I’m posting my mini-review today.

This month was supposed to be Historical Fiction/Romance/Mystery. I read a YA book set in the 1930s, so it was technically historical, but I’m going to count this as June’s YA book, and read a historical (or something else) then. I am going ALL out of order on this thing.

So. I read I CAPTURE THE CASTLE by Dodie Smith.

I think I’m just not in the target market for this book. I liked it okay, but it wasn’t “the bestest thing ever.” Probably because I’m so much older than the age group it’s really written for. I appreciated the message that “You shouldn’t settle for less than what you really want.” But I’ve known a lot of 17/18-year-olds who were/are a lot more mature than this girl. Maybe it’s the difference in era, too. Kids today are a lot more sophisticated, in a lot of ways.

The story is about a self-aware 17-year-old who lives in a rundown castle in rural England with her family-older sister, younger brother, stepmother and father who was a “one-book wonder,” making lots of money with a highly acclaimed experimental novel, and hasn’t written anything since. They’re desperately poor, and the sister hates it. The heroine, who tells us the story in her journal, isn’t wild about being hungry or having ratty outgrown clothes, but she’s not so desperate. She wants to be a writer, wants to “experience life.” Oh, there’s also another boy–very handsome, but “lower class” (his mother was their housekeeper, till she died)–who lives with the family and works for them. He gets room & board, but doesn’t get actual wages, and he’s got a crush on the heroine.

I spent a lot of time wanting to smack the heroine upside the head and say “grow up!” She talks about how it’s immature to kiss someone and think one’s in love–but she does it anyway. And I never did understand why she was so snobbish to the “servant” boy – I could see how she might not “love” love him–he was essentially like another brother–but it wasn’t explained like that. Maybe the narrator wasn’t conscious of it–but she was conscious of so much else. That may have been part of the reason for my impatience with her. She was so self-aware about so much–and so dim about so much else.

But then the adults in the book needed smacking even more than the heroine, so… I have even less patience with people who “wait for the muse” when they want to create. The muse shows up when you give it a place to appear. You create the opportunity, by sitting down and starting the work, and the muse has space to work.

In the end, I’m not sure what the point of the whole story was. It felt very much like a slice of life story without a real ending to the story arc. Either that, or I missed what the arc actually was. And yes, there was the “Don’t settle,” theme, but… I guess the end left me feeling as if the story just fizzled out.

I did like the book, but it wasn’t anything to swoon over, IMO.

I had all sorts of inspiring ideas for a blog–but didn’t write them down, and when I get to the “New Post” page on the computer, I have forgotten them all. Alas.

I have written pages this week, despite having doctor appointments and such. Need to go get mail from the post office today. Should have a new Netflix movie in.

I will try in future to write down blog ideas so I will not forget what they are. :)

Oh! The middle grandson is learning to ride a bike! He does pretty good, except–when he sees a car coming their way, 2 blocks away, he yelps, jumps off the bike and hides behind the nearest tree. (He’s autistic. He’s doing good, considering.)

Y’all have a good weekend.

One Response to TBR Challenge: I Capture The Castle

  1. Hi Gail, I read I CAPTURE THE CASTLE a few years ago, and my reaction was very similar to yours. It is considered to be sort of a Holden Caulfield YA classic in Blighty, and I read the Folio Books edition. I too noted the odd English preoccupation with class status, and the bizzare parents, whose foibles sort of filled in the off-kilter perspective of the narrative. And like you, the lack of any resolution left me empty-handed at the end. Speaking of class awareness, I shall tell you about my English friend, a man of brilliant intellect who readily admitted to being part of the “brain drain”. He in fact recruited me for the local Mensa chapter. Growing up in a lower class household in London, his accent immediately marked his supposed “place” and he found it impossible as he got older to get the respect his academic accomplishments should have garnered. He came to the US working as an engineer for Pratt & Whitney designing jet engines, and swore he would never go back. He was treated with the greatest respect here, and told me that Americans thought his accent was “quite charming”. Nevertheless, he couldn’t completely shake the class awareness that dogged him in England. He complimented me on my tie one time and asked me what school I had attended, thinking I was wearing school colors, apparently one of those “class” clues in England. When I explained to him that I had purchased it at a local haberdashers because I liked the color scheme, he remonstrated with me with great vigor about travelling under false colors, wearing regimental stripes to which I wasn’t entitled. Of course I had to laugh full throatedly while attempting to explain that we merely aspire to sartorial splendor here, and the beyond a euphonious combination of colors, our ties are generally meaningless as to regiment or school. It seems you can take the boy out of England, but it’s not as easy to take England out of the boy.

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