Episode 1: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith


In the first episode of Literary Canon Ball we chat all about the forgotten classic that is Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle.

Smith wrote I Capture the Castle, her first novel, while living in California during the second world war. She was already an accomplished screenwriter and later wrote the smash hit, 101 Dalmatians, which you may be familiar with!

‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink’ so begins I Capture the Castle and so we are introduced to the ‘tolerably bright’ Cassandra Mortmain.

Published in 1948, I Capture the Castle tells the story of Cassandra and her eccentric family: her writer father, suffering from writer’s block; her former artist model step-mother Topaz; her sister Rose, on whose potential marriage the family’s fortunes rest; Stephen the son of a former housekeeper who lives with the family; and Thomas, Cassandra’s younger brother who reveals himself to be nearly as bright as Cassandra herself. All of whom are living in 'gentile poverty' in a crumbling castle in rural England.

The story gets going once the Cotton’s, the wealthy Americans who become the family’s new landlords after inheriting the nearby Scoatney Hall, arrive.

Join us as we discuss the feminist merits of this book, the relationship between Cassandra and her sister, and whether I Capture the Castle is YA or not YA.