Saturday, January 28, 2012

Oldies but Goodies: I Capture The Castle


Since I began book blogging, I've noticed that the majority of books that are blogged about, are new books or soon-to-be-released books. Which is an awesome way to learn about what's new and stay current. However, a lot of the books I acquire (through paperbackswap.com, library sales, randomly given to me by friends and relatives) are actually old books. And (although this might be strangely personifying these books on my part) I feel kinda sorry for them...doomed to sit on a shelf or to be passed from yard sale to yard sale because most people want the latest thing, the new NYT bestseller, instead of taking the time to dig for the hidden gem of a good story that an older book can hold.

We're still awesome inside!

So (to the point already), I've decided to create a new feature on this blog, "Oldies but Goodies," in which, I will review books that are over ten years old and haven't had a lot of buzz lately.

Over ten year old? That's like a grandma in book years right?


For the first "Oldies but Goodies" I picked: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.
Vonze: 4 out of 5
Date Published: 1948 (OMG, it is a grandma!)
Book Summary: "I Capture the Castle tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills. She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries. Her journals candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle's walls, and her own first descent into love. By the time she pens her final entry, she has "captured the castle"--and the heart of the reader--in one of literature's most enchanting entertainments."

Review: "I Capture the Castle" is one of the best diary-format novels (The Princess Diaries, Go Ask Alice, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, etc) I've ever read. In 1948 it was probably considered to be a contemporary novel, however, nowadays it reads like historical YA. If I didn't know the date it was published, I would have guessed it was a modern author who did her research well. Dodie Smith's writing style didn't feel dated to me at all. The book stands out in my mind, not only for it's coming-of-age story, but for the bizarre love triangle, square, case of: she loves him, he doesn't love her, he loves her, she doesn't love him, that I've encountered.

I gave it four stars instead of five because of the ending...I'll be honest, she doesn't end up liking the guy I wanted her to like, but my rating isn't based on that. It's based on the fact that the ending is left very open, in my opinion. So much so, that I wasted a lot of time googling to see if there was a sequel to the book...and there isn't. If "I Capture the Castle" was a new historical YA release, this book would probably have been the beginning of a series. However, as it stands, the author passed away in 1990, and now, the reader is pretty much left to imagine if the main character goes after her dream guy or settles for the practical choice. I felt like throwing the book across the room I was so frustrated at the ending. But the writing style is great and the characters are memorable.

So, overall, this oldie but goodie is worth your time.

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