Recommended by Sophia
A coming-of-age novel written as diary entries by a 1930s teenage girl living in poverty in an English castle.
➽ “What at first appears as a simple coming-of-age story is actually a cross-genre mediation on the history of the British novel. Sometimes Austen-esque, sometimes farcical, but ultimately modernistic, Smith’s characters break the norms of reader expectation to transcend the mere love interest plot line to be young women in charge. Cassandra, the main character not only portrays this in her romantic life but in her capturing of the castle, capturing it in words for the reader to enjoy, but capturing control of the family and its destiny. The descriptions of the castle’s many nooks and crannies are beautifully and often hilariously done within a complex narrative that is pure genius on the author’s behalf. Like no other book I have read before, I immediately felt the need to call this one of my favourite books. Thank you Sophia for introducing it into my life, someone who never fails me with recommendations.” – Rachel
➽ “I read this book totally believing I was reading a book written by a contemporary writer, written recently. So I was completely taken aback to find it was a story written during the period it was set, in the 1930s. It made me love it more! Yes, I loved it, from start to finish, although the romantic in me wanted a romantic happy ending and so was slightly unsatisfied … but would it have been as good if it had ended any other way? Probably not. I loved the romantic tension, the humour and the gentle philosophical meanderings about God and life and happiness, and the feminist undercurrent. It was also an easy read, so all in all a top book, and highly recommended reading.” – Sonya
➽ “I absolutely loved this book with a passion! I felt like Cassandra Mortmain was a dear friend and she could have told me about anything and I would have listened with rapturous delight. The writing was beautiful, the characters interesting, the story unpredictable and captivating with truly funny parts littered throughout. Dodie Smith was incredibly talented and I’m wondering how I had never heard of this book until a friend suggested we read it for book club – how is it not more widely (popularly) known as a classic? I feel grieved that I’ve finished it and can’t read it for the first time again – I’m actually getting truly sad (again) thinking about that!” – Jo