I Capture the Castle (Musings/Giveaway)

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The week before I left Oregon, I was at a thrift store in Roseburg when I found a first edition hardcover copy of I Capture the Castle. 

I Capture the Castle is one of those comforting books I feel I must always have with me. My softcover version was packed and ready to go, but I replaced it with the hardcover version, thinking vaguely that since I now had two copies, I should do a giveaway.

Then, I took to re-reading I Capture the Castle in-between returning my Paris library books and obtaining my Berlin/Millersburg library card. The more I read it, the more I find to love about it, and the more I want to talk about it on my blog. I find I’ve already mentioned the book four times since I first picked it up in 2012 (here, here, here, and here). But today I plan to dedicate an entire blog post to the subject.

The main reason this book appeals to me is because it is simultaneously larger-than-life and yet eerily real.

I Capture the Castle focuses on 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain, who lives in an old house built onto the side of some castle ruins. So Cassandra can, for instance, lean out the drawing room window to feed the swans in the moat, or walk along the castle walls, descend the tower staircase, and end up in her bedroom.

Cassandra’s father is an eccentric writer who had one successful book and then quit writing. Her stepmother, Topaz, is an artist’s model who likes to do artsy things like play a lute and commune with nature, but also cooks and cleans and takes care of everyone. And her older sister Rose is at times very fun loving and playful, and at times quite melodramatic (Probably an ESFP, lol).

At the beginning of the book, the Mortmains are lamenting their boring, poverty-stricken lives. They live way out in the country and have few friends, and as Mr. Mortmain hasn’t actually published a book in ages, they have no money. It’s been years since they’ve even paid the rent on their castle home, but their landlord, who at the beginning of the novel had recently died, always just let it go.

Then one day, two handsome young men, Simon and Neil Cotton, show up at their door. It turns out that through a series of deaths in the family, Simon now owns their house.

That, I suppose, is what one would call the “inciting event” that sets the novel in motion.

But inside this fanciful, larger-than-life setup of setting and character, comes a book that feels so real mostly because of how it explores unrequited love.

I feel like the classic setup for a romantic book is to have the Mr. Darcy character in love with the Lizzie Bennett character for most of the book, so that when Lizzie finally comes to her senses and realizes that he’s the one for her, he’s just there for the taking. Meanwhile, other women who may have loved Mr. Darcy are either villainized so much we don’t care about their feelings (Miss Bingley), or so shadowy and under-developed that it doesn’t occur to us to wonder if they’re brokenhearted (Anne de Bourgh).

Maybe Cassandra Mortmain is more observant than a 17-year-old would realistically be, but I think she lived vicariously through other people’s romances. In any case, somehow I Capture the Castle captured romance and unrequited love from a variety of angles.

Here are a few more reasons why I love the book:

1. It’s funny and clever.

2. The characters are fascinating.
Especially with Rose and Topaz, Cassandra gets annoyed at their silliness and sees right through their airs, but also deeply appreciates and likes them. In this way they feel like real people.

3. I randomly love house books.
I adore any book that prominently features an interesting house. This book is especially delightful because there is just enough description, and a couple of illustrations, that make me able to visualize the entire house in my head. Every single room and tower.

4. I also randomly love books where people economize.

5. It is ultimately a happy, hopeful book, despite dealing with unrequited love.

I think I’ve rambled on about the book enough, but I’d love to have a hearty discussion with someone about the classism in it. Did any of you who’ve read the book notice how the Mortmains say they think of Stephen as a part of the family, but he didn’t get invited to the dinner party at Scoatney Hall? Or the way Cassandra is so bored, but it never occurs to her to be friends with Ivy Stebbins?

Anyway. I am giving away a paperback copy of I Capture the Castle. To enter, leave a comment on this blog post or on my Facebook post saying that you’d like to be entered.

Giveway will close at 11:59 pm EST on Thursday, November 15.

ETA: The giveaway is only open to USA addresses. I shipped to Canada once and the postage was more than the books would be new. Yikes! Sorry to international readers. Someday I’ll be a wealthy writer with $$$ for all the shipping, haha.

Another ETA: Do be aware, if you read this review and want to go watch the movie, that there is nudity in it. I don’t know what the producers were trying to prove, because it’s completely unnecessary to the plot, but whatever. That’s Hollywood for you, I guess.

62 responses to “I Capture the Castle (Musings/Giveaway)

  1. Oh, I also love this book! I think I first heard of it from you, actually. And the movie wasn’t bad, either!
    Now I want to reread it and find the things you asked if people noticed!
    (And you don’t need to enter me in the drawing. Shipping to Bulgaria isn’t cheap, haha).

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  2. Oooooo pick me! Pick me!

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  3. Would love to read it!

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  4. I’d love to be entered! Never read the book but looking for some good reads for the winter months when I need a distraction from textbooks.:)

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  5. I’d love to own a copy of that book!:)

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  6. Michelle Martin

    Enter me!!

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  7. I’ve never heard of this book, but it sounds intriguing! I’d love to win it!

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  8. I also would love to read this book, especially after your superbly descriptive way of introducing the book to me. (I’ve not read your other bits about the book…)

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  9. I would like to be entered.

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  10. Pick me, pick me! 😊 I so enjoy your blog and your interesting perspective on life. I got to meet your mom yesterday at one of her book signings which was very cool.

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  11. Denise Bontrager

    I want to read this now that you have described it. Enter me please:)

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  12. I’ve never heard of this!! I’d love to read it, I’m too economical to go buy it😜

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  13. Sounds like an interesting read! Please enter my name for the giveaway 🤩

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  14. Sounds like my kind of book. Would love to read it.

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  15. I read I Capture a Castle last year because of your recommendation. I enjoyed it – but not as much as you do. But perhaps I need to read it another time or two and allow it to grow on me.
    Gina

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  16. Love a castle book! Please enter my name😊

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  17. I hope I win, but if not I’m going to see if our library has it! ☺

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  18. Emily, I always enjoy reading your thoughts on the books you’ve read and it sometimes inspires me to get a copy. This one particularly since it has a castle involved. I spent 3 weeks in the UK this summer and was blessed to be able to explore several castles, which we are sadly lacking here in the US. I’m picturing this story in my mind already, with some real castles in my memory. I would love to be entered in your drawing for this one.

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  19. With such a tantalizing review, I definitely want to be entered in the drawing but ultimately, read the book.

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  20. Sheila Zimmerman

    I have never read this book and I would love to read it this winter! I enjoy your blog. 😊

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  21. I recall really enjoying this book but it’s been long enough I’ve forgotten much of it. I’d love a reread.

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  22. I suppose, since I’ve already won a giveaway once, I probably shouldn’t enter now….but I’m intrigued. I love the author’s name. Every kid I have ever babysat, and most of my friends’ kids have called me Dodie at some point….And I LOVE castles. When I was 16 I spent 5 weeks in Europe (England, Holland, mostly Germany, and France) and saw MANY (mostly German) castles and lots of interestingly shaped suits of armor. (Pot bellies are nothing new, it turns out!!)

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  23. I’d like to be entered! Thanks 😄

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  24. I love this book and loved reading your observations about it. One of my favourite parts is where they’re all discussing the dinner party on the way home and drooling over the food they received (whoever was holding the ham was “nursing it like it’s your firstborn child”) when suddenly they realize the chauffeur has heard everything they said.

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  25. I would love to be entered, because I just lost my own precious paperback copy to a flood in my apartment, along with 200 other books, and I’m already missing it. But since you edited the US limit in after posting it wasn’t in my email of the update, so I guess I can’t. 😦

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  26. Sounds like a fascinating book. I’d love to be entered to win. 🙂

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  27. Enter me please! 😁

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  28. I’ve been intrigued ever since I first read about it on your blog. If you’d enter me, I’d be thrilled.

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  29. Thanks for the book suggestion.. I want in!

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  30. This book sounds like something I would be interested in. 🙂

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  31. I would love to read the book. Please enter my name.

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  32. Oo, you’re very persuasive! Now I want to read it, too.

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  33. Thanks for the book recommendation! i would love to be entered!

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  34. I’ve never read it and would love to. If you happen to draw my name, you can send to my US address.:)

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  35. Oh, I’d love to read this book!

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  36. I promptly borrowed this book from the library when you mentioned it a while ago, and probably read it all in one day. It’s one that I’ll own a copy of eventually, thanks to you!

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  37. Enter me in the book giveaway.

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  38. It sounds interesting.

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  39. Rebekah Barkman

    I would love this book; it sounds so interesting.

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  40. I’d appreciate being entered. I enjoy reading your blog, Emily!

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  41. Tabitha Schmidt

    I’m commenting just because I also love this book and I loved reading your thoughts on it! I already own a copy, so no need to enter me.

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  42. You can enter me, and maybe when you come back, i can borrow your book. 😀

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  43. Would love to read it!! I’m currently living in Thailand, but I still have a US shipping address! 🙂

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  44. I would love to read the book. Sounds interesting!

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  45. This sounds like a book I would enjoy 🙂 I like “people who economize” books too (lol) Please enter me in your giveaway 🙂

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  46. I would love to be entered! The book sounds really cool!

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  47. Well this book sounds delightful! I’d love to be entered!

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  48. Please enter me. Sounds fascinating.

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  49. Your description is wonderful. I love that you think about the personality types of the characters, because I do the same thing… 😜 Historical fiction is a favorite of mine and I’d be thrilled to have it!

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  50. I’ve never heard of this book, but I’d love to read it!

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  51. Intriguing! Please toss my name in the hat! ☺

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  52. Enter please

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  53. I love to read and this sounds like just my kind of book. Please enter me 🙂

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  54. It was nice to meet you this weekend, Emily, and sew with you for a bit. I hope that dress comes together like you want it to.
    This book sounds like an interesting read, so add my name to the mix.

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  55. I might try reading it (but don’t enter me in the giveaway because I’m not a USA address) having read The Blue Castle (L. M. Montgomery) after you recommended it and really loved it! 🙂

    A comment on what you say about Pride and Prejudice: if I had thought that either Miss Bingley or Miss de Bourgh had been in love with Darcy, I would have felt it tragic, and I would have been really sorry for them (though I do also think Darcy was quite right not to get involved if he didn’t regard them with at least a friendly interest). But my impression is that in the case of Miss Bingley, she is just trying to catch Darcy because he is a good match, despite his obvious lack of interest in her. I have tended to suppose that is why Jane Austen doesn’t think much of her! I’m also not sure (though it is a little while since I have read it) that Miss de Bough’s feelings are ever mentioned; certainly she does nothing to suggest she has any real interest in him, as opposed to (perhaps) being resigned to the arranged marriage her mother has worked out for her. I agree she is really shadowy and not fully developed.

    Have you (or anyone else) read the Lord of the Rings and if so, have you formed an opinion on the unrequited love in that? Despite the outcome, I find it really heartbreaking: mostly because the woman involved is already suffering from quite enough without having something like that added to her burden, and also because I feel the way both she and the person she is in love with react are so right for their characters and cultures, deepening empathy. Her response also embeds her personal story in the deeper mythology of the overall plot.

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  56. I would like to be entered for the giveaway as well!

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  57. Marian Zimmerman

    sounds intriguing

    Liked by 1 person

  58. Enter me please!

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  59. I’d like to be entered to win!

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  60. Oooh, enter me! I’m always looking for new books to read! 🙂

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