Friday, 18 April 2008

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I was drawn to trying I Capture the Castle, as so many women cite this as being their favourite book. There are many points about the novel that I find absolutely charming: it's division into three phases of Cassandra's growth - each attributed to a different journal; Smith's descriptive skills and ability to capture the character's idiosyncrasies channeled through Cassandra's narrative voice; the empathy one feels with the character of Stephen, even as we view him through Cassandra's eyes.

On the other hand I found, until the very end of the novel, that the narrative voice (the character of Cassandra) was extremely irritating. Whilst I am prepared to accept that this was easier towards the end of the novel as she was growing up and less 'consciously naive', as she is described by Simon, and therefore this irritant is a deliberate narrative device... it still annoyed me and marred my enjoyment of the story Smith is telling her readers.

The claims of some to favour this novel over any others seems a little 'consciously naive' in itself to me - perhaps a little like my own claims for Breakfast at Tiffany's to be my favourite film of all time (although I adore it, in reality it's Bridget Jones' Diary that I'll return to again and again on a rainy day) and consequently it sits uneasily on my conscience and grates... just a little.

Next up... Under Milk Wood