It’s funny how finishing a book can inspire a spark of creativeness. Dodie Smith‘s I Capture the Castle did that. At first, I was not impressed by the style of writing. It was written in 1948 and that usually means long flowery descriptions and out-of-date speaking styles. All that and more is in the novel. What’s more Dodie Smith was a British writer (better known for One Hundred and One Dalmations).
The story line is a coming of age. Cassandra, a child who grows up during the course of the book, tells the story of the reemergence of her father as a writer. In the process, her family, thanks to the heirs of the Scoatney Hall, dig themselves out of abject poverty. The time is the early twentieth century. Motor cars, taxis and buses existed. The era of forced marriages, at least in the West, is quickly ending. By that I mean, arranged marriages. Rose, Cassandra’s older sister, finds that circumstances, here her family’s future, sometimes forces marriage, even when most of her family tries to stop her. In the end, she has to choose between happiness, love, and security and she does.
Back to what inspired me. The father is an author who unbeknownst to his family is well regarded in some literary circles as well as the academy. He has published one book and in the process of that, landed in prison for attacking his wife. After that he publishes no more. Something has changed. His family wonders is it because he has gone funny in the head, given up, or now hates the world.
Cassandra and her brother Thomas’ experiment to get the father back writing was the inspiration. I Capture the Castle is a book for writers. You can see, and at the end, feel the process. That was my inspiration.