I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
Reviewed by Saman, age 15, New York
When I first bought this book it sat forgotten on my bookshelf until I realized and quickly grabbed it. Good thing I did too! In this day and age not everyone has the time to search through bestseller lists, websites, and magazines for a good book. Sometimes it comes down to judging a book by its cover, or by its being passed along. Luckily I was able to find it reviewed by one of my favorite authors, J.K. Rowling, and I completely trust Rowling's judgment.
I Capture the Castle was Dodie Smith's first book, published in 1948. It will make you wish there were a sequel! Unfortunately one was never written. Due to legal issues Dodie Smith was forced to move to the U.S.A. with her husband, and she passed away in 1990. However, there is a movie based on the book released in 2003, featuring Henry Cavill, Marc Blucas, Rose Byrne, Romola Garai, Billy Nighy, and Henry Thomas.
I was glad the book started off with a description of a normal, artistic teenager during the 1930s. The main characters are two young girls, one a beauty queen and the other a great writer. Two heroes then enter the story to charm our heroines. Cassandra, who is seventeen, has an admirer by the name of Stephen who sounds sweet and gentle. Cassandra feels nothing but friendship in return. Kind of sad, isn't it? Stephen seemed like an ideal boyfriend, though I don't understand why she is picky since the comparison to her sister's beauty makes her seem like a plain Jane. Rose, the beauty of the sisters, is sick of her family's poor standard of living and can't wait until her knight in shining armor comes to rescue her.
The stories revolve mainly around Cassandra. By the time our heroes Simon and Neil enter, you can't help but fall in love with her character! Cassandra hides away in her writing and only comes out when someone tall and magnificent approaches her. She experiences every teenager's problems - love, jealousy, and heartbreak.
There are multiple reasons why I loved this story and why it is currently on my summer reading list again. Above all, it's a story that I can relate to. The author was able to write a story in which I can put myself in the characters' own shoes. It brought out so much emotion that I could hardly stop myself from laughing and crying at the necessary points.
This book is for anyone who wants to read a story where a teenager can visualize another teenager's life in a different century and see the similarities of adolescents no matter what the time period.
My Rating: 4 1/2 stars (of a possible 5)