We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
I Capture the Castle | [Dodie Smith]

I Capture the Castle

"I write this sitting at the kitchen sink" is the first line of a novel about love, sibling rivalry, and a bohemian existence in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. Cassandra Mortmin's journal records her fadingly glamorous stepmother, her beautiful, wistful older sister, and the man to whom they owe both their isolation and poverty: Father. The author of one experimental novel, and a minor cause celebre, he has since suffered from writer's block and is determined to drag his family down with him.
Regular Price:$26.30
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

"I write this sitting at the kitchen sink" is the first line of a novel about love, sibling rivalry, and a bohemian existence in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. Cassandra Mortmin's journal records her fadingly glamorous stepmother, her beautiful, wistful older sister, and the man to whom they owe both their isolation and poverty: Father. The author of one experimental novel, and a minor cause celebre, he has since suffered from writer's block and is determined to drag his family down with him. But if the iron has entered Father's soul, it hasn't penetrated Cassandra's.

©2000 Dodie Smith; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"A good story, flourishing characters, and the most persuasive narrative voice." (Guardian [London])
"This book has one of the most charismatic narrators I've ever met." (J.K. Rowling)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (168 )
5 star
 (74)
4 star
 (63)
3 star
 (22)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
 (1)
Overall
4.1 (134 )
5 star
 (58)
4 star
 (47)
3 star
 (20)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (3)
Story
4.5 (132 )
5 star
 (77)
4 star
 (40)
3 star
 (13)
2 star
 (2)
1 star
 (0)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Matthew Singapore, Singapore 12-16-13
    Matthew Singapore, Singapore 12-16-13 Member Since 2013

    Moving further from work extended my daily commute... thank God for Audible.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    121
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    38
    30
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    14
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well, that was a surprise"

    Truth be told, I felt a little duped when I first started "I Capture The Castle". It had been recommended to me by one of those "You Might Like" algorithms, and I made the purchase impulsively (and uncharacteristically) with absolutely zero research. Almost instantly I realised “Capture” was unlike any other novel I'd read before, and I was baffled by the recommendation. I'm not drawn to novels in this genre, but all I can say is that I absolutely loved every moment inside Cassandra’s journal. I even feel a small sense of loss that I won't be spending any more time with the inhabitants of Scoatney Village, who feel so incredibly alive to me now.

    I've subsequently done a little research on the book, and I can see it featuring on lists like "Classics All Young Girls Should Read" etc... This makes me a little embarrassed, as I'm a middle-aged man. I suppose I can understand some dismissing this as a “charming little girls book"—it is a tad heavy on young romance, first loves, stolen kisses, exciting marriage proposals (Dear God, I'm cringing as I write). But what a pity if they did pigeon-hole it that way; it has way more to offer. It is witty, thoughtful, clever and genuinely laugh-out-loud funny at times. And the characters are so deeply drawn, I guess I didn’t mind all the accompanying histrionics.

    I should say that I did live in the UK for many years, so I know my nostalgia for the English countryside enhanced my enjoyment. My favourite quote: “It came to me that Hyde Park has never belonged to London - that it has always been , in spirit, a stretch of countryside; and that it links the Londons of all periods together most magically - by remaining forever unchanged at the heart of a ever-changing town.”

    Loyal fans of the book have admired this audio version, and I totally support all praise for Jenny Agutter. This is a flawless narration and I can’t imagine a better way to enjoy this book.

    Oh and—by the way—I think I’ve now realized why the algorithm recommended the book to me in the first place. I had “Cold Comfort Farm” listed as a favourite, and it’s only now that I’m starting to see the synchronicities between these two novels.

    108 of 109 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ilana Montreal, Quebec, Canada 08-12-12
    Ilana Montreal, Quebec, Canada 08-12-12 Member Since 2011

    Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    441
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    286
    119
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    65
    11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A modern romance that doesn't fall into clichés"

    Seventeen year-old Cassandra Mortmaine keeps a journal in which she introduces us to her family, which has the privilege of living in a beautiful, albeit crumbling English castle. Her family are so poor none of them ever get enough to eat, they all wear tattered clothes and most of the furniture has long ago been sold off. Things haven't always been so dire, because once upon a time her father published a successful novel and they lived very comfortably, but many years have gone by since then and instead of working on a new project, he sits in his study obsessively reading mystery novels, insisting that he'll never write again. Their young stepmother Topaz makes a very meagre income as an artist's model, but that won't keep any of them fed and warm. Sister Rose is a rare beauty, and might have hopes of making a good marriage and pulling them all out of their misery, but of course there aren't any eligible men around, nor are there likely to be any in this small country town where nothing ever happens. Nothing happens that is, until one day two men show up at the door unannounced, wanting to take a tour of the castle. We know things are going to change drastically with this new arrival, and they do. But while Cassandra struggles with new feelings—the novel threatened at that point, to my great annoyance, to become a teenage angst-ridden paean to unrequited love—there were plenty of surprises in store so that by the end I was very sorry to lose such a likeable narrator. Though it was written in the 1940s, this is a very modern romance that doesn't fall into clichés. I absolutely loved Jenny Agutter's narration and will seek out other books read by her.

    26 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel Lawson, Australia 08-11-11
    Rachel Lawson, Australia 08-11-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    198
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "An English Lost Domain"

    Anglophiles around the world will be transported back to England in the 1930s in this delicious, bitter sweet story of an eccentric family living in a house built into an ancient castle. It is easy to forget that the diary entries of the main character, teenager Cassandra, are ficticious. Dodie Smith writes such achingly beautiful observations of the countryside in all seasons equally well as she describes the endearing faults of her main characters. The Mortmain's lives are suspended in time for a while until a pair of American brothers arrive to claim their inheritance and the hearts of Cassandra and her sister Rose. Change is also in the air for their author father and "son of the house" Stephen. The story is not wound up too tightly at the end and we are left room to imagine where war, fortune and love will lead the characters. Jenny Agutter's reading beautifully captures the passion and "wiser than her years" poise of Cassandra.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kate Houston, TX, United States 03-26-14
    Kate Houston, TX, United States 03-26-14 Member Since 2005

    My eyes are going bad, and without audible, my mind would certainly go next...

    HELPFUL VOTES
    28
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    537
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Just lovely."

    An unexpected treasure. It's reminds me a bit of a Kate Morton book, but with better prose and more original characters. Just a dash of erudition, in a good way - subtly employed. And some moments were brilliant - conjured up clever images and incidents I'll not forget. I'll definitely listen to this one again in a couple of years or so.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Ormond, Australia 11-17-10
    Linda Ormond, Australia 11-17-10 Member Since 2010

    I really want to buy more books but too many US ones I love UK narrators. Can you get some more Eleanor Bron, Gwen Watford, Jenny Agutter?

    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    29
    26
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    12
    0
    Overall
    "I capture the castle"

    when I saw this was by Dodie Smith I thought it might be a childrens' book. But no: it is an adult book and an absolute gem. I loved it. The story teller is Jenny Agutter with her soft, English, cultured tones and she is perfect for the narration. The story is of the two daughters of a family and written from the perspective of one of the daughters. Highly entertaining, touching and very very well written.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MillenniumMike Aurora, IL United States 05-03-14
    MillenniumMike Aurora, IL United States 05-03-14 Member Since 2009

    Favorites are histories and mysteries. Once avid reader trying to pick up the pace again later in life.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    28
    18
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Gothic romance set in the 20th century"

    Cassandra, 17, writes in her journal of her oddball 20th century family living in an old English castle house that is connected to a remnant of a 600 year-old castle.

    The family has no money, no jobs or income, not even towels or electricity, yet they sit around all day making Big Decisions such as whether or not to sip cocoa or tea that day. For excitement they argue as to whether men look better in beards or not.

    The patriarch of the family wrote a book once, but now just reads mysteries and does crosswords 24x7 in candlelight in his gatehouse room. Topaz, 29, his second wife, is a former artist's model who likes to take nude walks in the moonlight (but modestly wearing her boots, of course), and for some reason seems worried about losing her prize of a husband. Older sister, Rose, 21, sits around all day doing absolutely nothing except looking beautiful/enchanting/ravishing. A yardhand, Stephen, seems to be the sole character with a heart and a working income, but he is looked down as inferior by the layabout sisters and is not considered to be a marriageable prospect. There is periodic excitement in the house like when the librarian stops by with new books (hooray!!!) or the vicar drops in for a chat. Occasionally there is tremendous drama as when Cassandra takes the wrong purse to a restaurant and can't pay for her dinner.

    While sitting around doing nothing all day the sisters like to fantasize wondering what might happen if two rich eligible young bachelors might accidentally appear on their doorstep. And, then ..
    You'll hear Great Thoughts like, "Getting a trousseau is such hard work," and you'll encounter activities all readers can relate to such as swimming in a moat. And, there's a ridiculously unbelievable comic scene involving a fur coat mistaken for a live bear. Added to the melange of ennui and inertia is the author's pretentiousness, with 17 year-old Cassandra making references throughout her journal to Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Leo Tolstoy, great poets, and other classic authors. The dogs in the book are Abelard and Heloise. Pretentious, moi?

    I will say, though, that although the characters and plot are boring, and the story line (will the man I love love me?), the author does occasionally put together a nicely written passage describing scenery or moonlight. And, in terms of the reader, Jenny Agutter is outstanding -- too bad her talents are wasted on this tripe. The problem with audio books is that when you encounter a book as vapid as this, you can't skim along any faster than the book reads.

    I recommend this book to a) people looking for Prince Charming, b) those who need a Jane Austen-lite fix, and c) men in solitary confinement with absolutely nothing else to do. 12 hours of listening to vacuous people doing absolutely nothing except trying to understand and catch the opposite sex is a bit too much excitement for this reader.

    PS. If you think I might not enjoy this genre, I love the books by Jane Austen, and Charlotte and Emily Bronte.

    And, now, please pour me my cup of chamomile..

    31 of 36 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Myers Brooklyn 03-03-11
    S. Myers Brooklyn 03-03-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    31
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    113
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "A Delight"

    This book is so wonderful, both in the writing and the performance. I was sad for it to end. Highly recommend.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erika AVON, IN, United States 02-11-14
    Erika AVON, IN, United States 02-11-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    40
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fizzled out"
    Would you try another book from Dodie Smith and/or Jenny Agutter?

    I loved the reader but was disappointed in the book. It started slow but then picked up and just when I was excited it fizzled out. Not happy with the ending as I am not a fan of open ended books.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Dodie Smith? Why or why not?

    Probably not, it got my hopes up and then didn't deliver.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Simon and Cassandra at his house listening to music.


    Could you see I Capture the Castle being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    It has been made into a movie.


    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Randa 10-14-14
    Randa 10-14-14 Member Since 2014

    I get these moments where I can't go by without an audiobook! I am irrevocably in love with books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Jane Austen Wannabe; Nothing New or Interesting"

    This screams Jane Austen and it's no secret; the narrator even tells us herself!

    Overall, the book has a peaceful tone to it, but isn't really exciting or unique.

    The story is narrated through the pages of an English girl's journal. It explores the different entries that describe how the girl and her family go by their daily routines in the boring monotonic life of poverty. Although, in fairness, the writer's description of poverty is interesting and allows the reader to understand the narrator's point of view.Nothing interesting seems to ever happen to the family until two rich boys come to town. That's where she and her sister (The entire household really) gets overexcited as these two young men become the centre of the family's drama (Pride & Prejudice Much?)

    Mildly entertaining if you have exhausted most of your other options.

    9 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gem Geek 11-12-14
    Gem Geek 11-12-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    124
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Delightful!"
    Any additional comments?

    This book is imaginative and a delight from beginning to end. If only Dodie Smith turned out more of these - I would buy each and every one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 11 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
Sort by:
  • Thomas
    Co. KildareIreland
    7/5/06
    Overall
    "90%"

    Captivating story and narration. The essence of the period well captured. The characters well drawn and observed. While the first half was excellent , for me the second half got a bit mawkish but overall definitely recommmended

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Patricia
    Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, United Kingdom
    5/22/06
    Overall
    "funny and well written"

    An excellent story, well-read. Sharp observations and wit.
    Entertaining characters set in a fascinating period. Great-value audiobook.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Louisa
    Southend on Sea, Essex, United Kingdom
    5/15/06
    Overall
    "I capture the castle"

    A delightful story, and Jenny Agutter's narration is absolutely perfect.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Clare
    AberdeenUnited Kingdom
    9/9/09
    Overall
    "A breath of fresh air."

    Delightful story, charmingly told by Cassandra, young, inexperienced, introspective and as wonderfully candid about her own flaws and feelings as she is about those around her. The book is full of colourful characters, most of whom are extremely likeable. You find yourself willing the down-at-heel Mortmain family well, and yet you are constantly aware that their well-being hangs by the flimsiest thread. The story rewards virtue and as such was a great introduction to 'proper' literature to my 12 year old, who LOVES this, and has listened to it six times and read it as well. Highly recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Andrea
    Stratford Upon Avon, United Kingdom
    7/11/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Really great actress but wrong for this book"
    What disappointed you about I Capture the Castle?

    I love the story but the voice is completely wrong for the book and although I wanted an unabridged reading, I have compromised and returned this for the Emilia Fox version which is very abridged but the voice - to me - is right for the book. The book is all in Cassandra's voice which in my head is light, sometimes flippant and has a young yet old teenage perspective. I have had other books read by Jenny Agutter and loved them as she personified those books brilliantly.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I love the precision of writing and the balance of the story that Dodie Smith worked so hard to achieve.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Jenny Agutter’s performances?

    Yes definitely.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Sharon
    Cranbrook, Kent, United Kingdom
    3/2/11
    Overall
    "Not just for teens!"

    I read this about ten years ago having missed it as a child/teenager. I gave it to my own daughter to read and she loved it too. Listening to it now, it has lost none of it's charm and is beautifully read by Jenny Agutter - no-one else could have done it justice. Listening to this is like sitting on a deck chair on a sunny day in a lovely garden with the bees buzzing gently. Many worlds away from the lifestyles that most of us lead, but utterly charming and engaging.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • H
    Richmond, United Kingdom
    11/29/08
    Overall
    "Superb"

    This was a quite marvellous audible book - beautifully read by Jenny Agiter - I felt I was actually in the castle throughout it. Be aware though it is incredibly sad and as I came to the end I was sitting in my car stopped by a pavement listening to it on my i-pod with tears streaming down. Superb - thank you for making this possible

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Rattleby
    7/8/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A truly life-enhancing experience"
    Where does I Capture the Castle rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I listened to this while I was walking, washing up, working. The voice of Cassandra got into me in unexpected ways, such that I felt more emotionally honest, more attuned to the detail of my surroundings, and utterly nostalgic for a period I've never known. This young girl is unwittingly a mindfulness practitioner - her experiencing of her inner and outer world is exquisitely attentive, as well as very funny. Jenny Agutter captures it so well. I can't recommend this book highly enough. I couldn't bear to leave it and began it again as soon as I had listened to the last, painful page; I missed Cassandra, I missed her vivid and unspoilt world! Her striking insights. It enriched my days.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Giulia
    Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    5/28/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I love it!"

    I love this book, and the audio version is a delight - I've just finished listening to it for the second time. It is often described as a coming-of-age story, and Jenny Agutter captures perfectly Cassandra's transition from 'consciously naive' childhood to young womanhood. It's funny, it's poignant, and it's deeply evocative of a largely lost English countryside: all crumbling castles and rusty iron bedsteads with weeds growing out of them, 'motoring' to the seaside for a picnic and a cherry brandy from a country pub. Dodie Smith apparently wrote it in America hankering after England, and I think the book is coloured with a loving nostalgia. I would highly recommend this to young and old readers alike: if you like Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons or any of the Persephone books like Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, I think you would like this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    uk
    4/14/13
    Overall
    "very enjoyable"

    Beautifully read by jenny agutter. Really bought the era to life. A gentle story well worth a listen

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 17 results PREVIOUS12NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.