"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink," is the famous introduction to Cassandra Mortmain, the narrator of Dodie Smith's beloved I Capture the Castle. Cassandra, with a keen eye for observation captures the mouldering castle she lives in and her eccentric mouldering family in her own words. Her father was the successful author of one book, his only book, and they live on the dwindling revenue of that early genius. Though Cassandra's beautiful sister Rose, their stepmother Topaz, and brother Thomas believe in him he spends most of his days reading detective novels in the gatehouse of the castle. Rose will do almost anything to change their luck, and finally one night it does with the arrival of their handsome American landlords.
The relationships between siblings were one of the most interesting aspects, especially the contrast between the inseparable sisters raised by a distant father and an eccentric nudist stepmother and the brothers raised separately by their divorced parents. Even more interesting is that Smith seems to touch on these subjects without batting an eye. The development of friendship between Cassandra and her younger brother Thomas, and their growth from indifferent caring to a friendship amongst siblings was one of my favorite parts.
Of course there is plenty of romance to go around for all the characters, whether it is real or imagined.
I really don't want to spoil any more of it for you if you haven't read it! Cassandra became like a fictional friend to me, I laughed at her jokes and the ridiculous things her family did with her, I listened to her secrets about love and growing up. There's a comparison often made between this book and those of Jane Austen and I have to agree. The characters become friends to the reader, more than just someone you read on a page. The one up that Smith has on Austen are the vivid descriptions of the castle and the English countryside. You can almost see the castle rising on the middle of the page with the tower behind it surrounded by bluebells and two friendly swans.