And our January Book of the Month is...I CAPTURE THE CASTLE by Dodie Smith (discussion Tuesday 27 January)

(94 Posts)

We'll be chatting about our Book of the Month, Dodie Smith's much-loved classic I CAPTURE THE CASTLE, on Tuesday 27 January from 8-10pm.

Don't forget you can order your copy here

Keen to know how the votes turned out? Have a snoop at the results here

And, for anyone who missed them first time round, here were January's book choices

Back to bath. See you next time.

ooh, not quiet after all. I've turned off the taps and come back,

Psychobabble, I think you've got it. Its all economics really isn't it, despite the romance. They are all struggling against poverty and trying to keep up appearances.

SoMuchToBits, I think we're right too. There are many parts of the book where C is struggling to put her feelings/the beauty of something into words, and that pleasure you get when you do articulate clearly..

looking forward to reading the enchanted april - have it on order from the library, so just time to finish my current read before it arrives
see you all next month

CarrieMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 27-Jan-09 21:52:42

Thanks Tilly and all - really enjoyed this one and enjoyed all your insights.

Off to bed with the new book and see you in Feb!

I suppose the capturing is her writing skills describing the place? I think there's more to it, but I am too dim-witted to get it.

It seems to have gone a little quiet, so I might climb into the bath with February's THE ENCHANTED APRIL and get ready for the next chat on Feb 24. Hope its as wonderful as this book has been.

Thanks everyone, as always...

SoMuchToBits Tue 27-Jan-09 21:49:20

Sorry I'm gatecrashing this thread, as I read the book a couple of years ago, and haven't read it recently, but...

IIRC, near the beginning of the book, Cassandra uses the word capture, as in describing a scene, capturing in words what is happening. So I think I capture the castle may be to represent that the castle is the setting for the book, and Cassandra is trying to capture in words what was happening, and her feelings about it. But I may have that totally wrong!

Psychobabble Tue 27-Jan-09 21:48:17

she has secured their future - if only because her father is writing again, regardless of whether or not she marries Simon, she has captured the castle.

lemurtamer Tue 27-Jan-09 21:47:58

I thought it meant she was trying to capture the spirit of the castle, as at the beginning she talks about capturing her feelings and other people's thoughts (I think).

i think Cassandra did seem the one who was the most in control of things - life, desires, surroundings. but perhaps that was because she was the narrator.
Or perhaps it's a clue to the fact that she does marry Simon, and therefore the castle becomes hers for ever...

Psychobabble Tue 27-Jan-09 21:38:14

I noticed the word 'capture' came up a few times in the book, actually in relation to her father IIRC but no the castle

I just saw a reading guide on the web that asked: What do you think the title I Capture the Castle is intended to mean?

I have no idea.

Is it that she's understood where her heart lies? Is it that she feels in control?

All suggestions welcome, I am lost on this one.

scampadoodle Tue 27-Jan-09 21:25:02

There's a very good biography which I read last year. Before she had a successful play she worked at Heals, where she met her husband whom she was with for years & years. They didn't have children, just dogs. (The husband came across as a bit gay TBH but he wasn't apparently)
But she was massively successful as a playwright before the war.

Psychobabble Tue 27-Jan-09 21:22:24

the edition I read had some little illustrations that were based on her drawings I think.

She did lots of plays I think. And wrote for Hollywood. No idea if she got writers block but it just seemed that the scene where he and CAssandra talk about it was very poignant and well-understood.

She wrote a notebook about the writing of this novel - i would love to read that. She imagined everything so carefully that she drew pictures of the bedrooms.

i think that's the purest pleasure for me in reading this, that it all seems so effortless and exactly right.

She was famous as a playwright, this book was her first novel and she wrote five more. This one is considered her best novel. I sound like a know-it-all but that's because I have the intro to the book in front of me! grin

According to my copy of the book it was plays she was famous for. And that she was unsure of how the story should end - it hadn't in the way she expected. Which I tend to agree with - I didn't see Rose and Neil together (but i may just be slow on the up-take....)

CarrieMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 27-Jan-09 21:12:01

Did she write much else? I know she did 101 Dalmations (which I didn't know before this) just wondering about the autobiographical comment re the dad

Thanks for the reassurance re: Jacob Wrestling Tilly grin

God, no Jacob Wrestling for bookclub I promise. Just the sort of book I'm not willing to tackle these days.

I thought the dad was too indulged by everyone, and locking him up was probably a good antidote to that. But then who knows what happened in prison? Perhaps he did have a terrible time there and ended up permenently damaged. I wondered again whether it mgiht be slightly autobiographical - when he says that if the desire to write goes away completely then he might go insane, I thought Dodie may have had those feelings.

Carriemumsnet, I thought locking dad up was one of the funniest parts of the book! Throughout the story I was hoping his behaviour could be challenged by someone and he got what he deserved. I also liked the way Thomas emerged from the shadows to help Cassandra with it.

scampadoodle Tue 27-Jan-09 21:01:01

Had she had them she would have had enough money to not have to bring them up herself.

Topaz wasn't modern though really. She was Bohemian but sort of lost in time too. Anyway, Bohemian women had a bugger of a time - always had to give up their 'art' in order to look after the man & children. Look at Augustus John's wife, she died in childbirth after having about 7 children...

CarrieMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 27-Jan-09 21:00:43

great minds whistlejacket - wouldn't have wanted him for my dad (or subject for English O level) that's for sure.

They girls don't really have a choice other than sitting around waiting for something (i.e. a man) to turn up to get them out of their poverty - as they discuss when they have their "board meeting" with the school mistress, they have no means of earning any money. They can't afford to leave the village to get a job (even if they could overcome the problem of not actually being qualified to do anything) - they would need tickets to get there, clothes, money to live on while they found a job, etc etc - even Topaz, who at least has a means of earning money, can't really save anything while she's away from home. I think the book gives an amazing sense of really being trapped by poverty - while there are some romantic aspects to it in the book, like the appreciation of a new journal, there really is no escape (like when people become homeless and so can't get a job becuase they have nothing to wear to an interview and no address to put on the application form). It is very romantic, and I love the castle, but what would have happened to them if Simon and Neil hadn't turned up?

No, Rose was definitely not going to get off her arse and do anything, but Topaz did her own thing (and suggested she carry on doing it, when they all try and find ways to make money). I think their opportunities were just a bit scarce, stuck in the middle of nowhere in that era.

The comedy is brilliant in this book. The timing is perfect - it always offsets a sad or insightful or dramatic moment.

CarrieMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 27-Jan-09 20:59:26

I loved the description of how Rose had learnt to act around men from novels -all that herione nonsense - thought that was really well observed/funny as well as poignant/sad

What did we think of the dad and the whole locking him up thing?

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