Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Favorites: I CAPTURE THE CASTLE and journaling

My hardcover edition
Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle ranks among my top ten favorite books. Along with brilliant writing, it features the sort of characters and plot elements that make me giddy:

-- a brainy, bookish girl who wants to be a writer
-- a ramshackle castle setting
-- an eccentric, artsy family
-- a pair of handsome, rich American boys as landlords and love interests.
-- kissing and dancing
-- yearning and heartbreak, but also PLENTY of laughter.
-- English countryside, English manners, English vicars
-- did I mention THE CASTLE?

Cassandra and Simon--this scene always makes me cry!
I rewatched the 2003 film adaptation this past weekend, and it sent me into swoons of ecstasy. Yes, in most cases the book is better than the film, but I have to give this screenplay credit for condensing the plot without sacrificing the emotional core of the story. And the cast! Romola Garai is perfection, as always, but in addition there are admirable performances from Bill Nighy, Tara Fitzgerald, Henry Cavill (so innocent prior to all that rutting about in The Tudors), and even Sinéad Cusack (Mrs. Thornton!) as wealthy, straight-talking (and vulgarly American) Mrs. Cotton. Still not quite sure about Henry Thomas as Simon Cotton, but this doesn't diminish my enjoyment of the film. The point of it all is Cassie, and Garai nails it.

Bonus wonderful thing -- while watching I wondered if the gorgeous soundtrack could possibly be available on iTunes. It is! And it was composed by Dario Marianelli, who also brought us the lush soundtracks for Pride and Prejudice (2005), Atonement, and Jane Eyre (2011), among others. Oh, and how fitting that Marianelli is rather handsome in a thinky and soulful way, which has nothing to do with anything except that I like to swoon.

Cassandra, her journal, and her castle
Best of all (and don't laugh at me), watching this film has renewed my zeal for journaling. And by that I mean actual writing in an actual bound journal, where I can say anything because it's meant only for me. After watching, I was just itching to write, but my current journal did not inspire. I bought it a few years ago at a lovely shop in New Orleans (Papier Plume), and it's charmingly compact and leather-bound, but I NEVER WANT TO WRITE IN IT. My hand doesn't fit! The lines are too narrow. I've only managed to write insipid stuff in this little book, which is an insult to the careful, loving way in which it was crafted. I'd promised myself that I wouldn't start a new journal until this one was filled, but when I looked at the long, long gaps between entries, I decided enough was enough. The little leather book has been put away, and now I am writing each day in my teNeus CoolNotes journal. It fits me! My thoughts spill forth onto its creamy, wide-ruled pages!

(I'm too old, however, to write in it while sitting in the sink.)

Are you a fan of I Capture the Castle--book and/or film? Do you keep a paper journal? If so, tell me all about it!

[Cross-posted to Livejournal]


  1. Oh man, I LOVE I Capture the Castle! My sister and I quote the movie all the time, and we even have matching bags with the first line of the book! ("I write this sitting in the kitchen sink...") I agree with you, it's one of the few movies that captures the essence of the book.

    1. How fitting that you and your sister are fans together! I love the idea of the matching bags.

      The film is just so gorgeous, and Romola is so amazing, how it could fail to please?

  2. I remember seeing the last half of the movie on TV and being very intrigued by it. I've since read the book and seen the movie in its entirety. Both are so beautiful and heartbreaking!

    I started journaling again a few months ago. The problem is, whenever I'm in a "hard place" (which happens fairly often), I tend to withdraw into myself, which sadly means there are week- and even month-long gaps in my diaries.

    How brilliant that you found the right notebook! I favour the classic ruled Moleskine, but it took a lot of trial and error.

    1. So glad you love the book and movie!

      Blogging seems to exacerbate my dark patches, but somehow handwriting in a private journal is helping. At least for now. I like the Moleskin journals, but I'm not sure the rule is wide enough for me. My handwriting isn't THAT big, but I still like the extra space.

  3. I love this movie too! It's so beautiful and I love all those elements that you love as well :) The story is so good too, I need to look for the book!
    I used to paper journal as a teenager. I've tried to as an adult, but it's difficult now! I can pretty much type at the speed of my thoughts but! And my hands cramp up!
    I got this book from amazon recently and it's got a similar vein to it...I bet you'd love it! I havent finished it yet, but it's good so far! And involves a crumbling castle and obscure royal family:

    1. Heather, you MUST read I Capture the Castle! Even more to love.

      And I really love the Montmaray books. The third one is coming out any day now, think? Must get my hands on it. :)

    2. Have you read the Kate Morton books? They also feature mysterious English castles and manor houses. Her latest one comes out this month--- I am obsessed! My family is lucky if they get to eat when I read one of her books ;)

    3. I read the one about the maid, where she was sort of vicariously living through the wealthy family (can't think of the title) and I have The Forgotten Garden around here somewhere, waiting to be read. What's your favorite Kate Morton?

    4. The one you mentioned sounds like The House at Riverton. Which is uncannily like Downton Abbey in many aspects (although the book came first!) It's hard to pick a favorite because all her stories are so different although they have some similar things (haunted english house/castle, check!) I think my favorite might be The Forgotten Garden. It has such a unique premise really kept me guessing.

    5. It WAS House at Riverton! And I will do my best to get to Forgotten Garden soon, now that you've recommended it!

  4. Love this book and the movie! I'm surprised we never discussed this before.

  5. I love I Capture the Castle - the book and the movie. I do still keep a paper journal, mainly about books. I note down thoughts about the books I'm reading and possible story ideas. I also blog about books, and having the notes help me remember specifics about the books or points I wanted to make.

    1. So glad to find another fan of the book and movie! And I always love to hear about people who still keep a paper journal. Before I was on Shelfari and Goodreads, I kept a paper reading journal but wasn't very good at it. A fellow teacher kept an elaborate reading journal that I envied so much, but for some reason I just couldn't keep it up. These days it's hard enough just to write a sentence or two on Goodreads, but I'm doing my best. :)