Monday, October 26, 2009
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
I always love a good Big House novel and especially a good British Big House novel with a little Comedy and a little Romance thrown in. And this novel from the 40s fits that bill. Eccentric family living in poverty in a run-down castle (no I didn't mean a jailhouse, I meant an enormous house), all narrated from the point of view of the clever sixteen year old daughter. I can kind of see how it fell out of print--eccentric Brits living in diminished circumstances is not an unheard tale--but I also see why it came back. It's compulsively readable. And what I noticed was the basic structure--we start with one family and another family moves in nearby. The various members of the two families intersect in a variety of changing relationships. And so a novel structure is born. By bringing two whole sets of characters together enough complications ensue to cover hundreds of pages.