I purchased I Capture The Castle last week when I was in need of comfort reading - I had read it before and knew it would do the trick in soothing me back into the reading groove - and it did not disappoint.
That's not to say that this is an "easy" read in terms of topics covered or the subject matter - I think some of the issues mentioned in the book do cause you to sit back and think - but the way the story is told through the journal narration of a 17 year old discovering love for the first time is comforting in it's simplicity.
The family focused on in the novel has its quirks and idiosyncrasies, the narrator, Cassandra Mortmain, lives with her older sister Rose, younger brother, Thomas, father, step-mother and a family friend/worker, Stephen, in a crumbling, run-down castle in the English countryside. The castle is as much a character in the novel as any of the people - the family had moved in there after the unexpected literary success of the first novel of Mr Mortmain - a success that has not been followed up with a second novel of any description many years later. All of the families precious furniture and special items have long been sold to help pay for their basic living needs.
The arrival of a pair of American brothers, Simon and Neil, who have inherited the estate belonging to the castle causes some stirs within the family and it is decided that the elder daughter, Rose, will be the one to marry one of the boys, thereby rescuing the family from their poverty - very Jane Austen-Esq!
The unfolding of Cassandra as the novel progresses is beautiful, and at times, painful to watch. She is at the same time, young and wise, funny and serious, clever and daft - a perfect 17 year old! I absolutely loved Cassandra and the novel as a whole - I feel perfectly comforted now so thank you very much Dodie Smith! My only sad point is that there is no follow up to I Capture The Castle - I would have liked to have read about Cassandra as she continued to grow into adulthood - although maybe that would ruin the magic...