I Capture the Castle is hard to put down. Who wouldn’t want to read someone else’s diary, especially when it’s well-written and chock full of engaging ideas and understated wit? At first I was put off by the conversational tone of the book which didn’t seem very literary. But by page 24 when Cassandra and her sister are trying to decide if they are more “Austen” than “Brontë”, I was hooked. It was the first time in ages that I’ve read a novel that eclipsed all other distractions.
BUT I must add that I was disappointed with almost every character in the book. It seemed that everyone who was unable to win the affection of the one they loved settled too easily for second best. They hated themselves for doing it, but nevertheless they did it. I am a big fan of people who are faithful to their principles even when no visible reward is in sight (Jane in Jane Eyre, Mr. Harding in The Warden, Anne Elliot in Persuasion, to name a few) so it's hard to root for heroes with no moral fiber. The only character in this book that comes even close to loving faithfully and over the long-term is Stephen, but in the end he, too, disappoints. Although I enjoyed the book I cannot highly recommend it.
A few quotes:
It was late autumn, very gentle and golden. I loved the quiet-colored fields of stubble and the hazy water meadows. Rose doesn’t like the flat country, but I always did – flat country seems to give the sky such a chance. (p. 27)
“You lose yourself to something beyond yourself and it’s a lovely rest.” (p. 245)