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I Capture The Castle

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” Dodie Smith’s coming-of-age novel has one of the best opening lines ever. It’s both quirky and very down-to-earth.

Cassandra isn’t a knock-out. As the book’s narrator, it’s easy to see Cassandra Mortmain is the smart one, but her sister Rose wins all the beauty prizes. Cassandra is normal and we love her for it.

Topaz. The sisters’ stepmother is artist’s model Topaz, one of the best characters ever created. She’s fond of lute-playing, pretentious declamations and walking naked in the fields, but is also warm and kind.

It’s one of those books that, briefly, makes poverty and difficult domestic situations seem romantic. Read a chunk of this before you clean the bathroom.

Time travel: from sleepy villages to rich, bohemian London, I Capture The Castle shows Thirties England off at its best.

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith (Vintage Classics, from £6.07)


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