Well, because I'm a book-before-the-movie type of person, I left I Capture the Castle and Marc Blucas patiently waiting on my Netflix queue until I headed home again and could grab my copy. I was actually excited to finally read it after all these years. My mom had recommended it to me back in my early college years or so, and the recommendation has only been reinforced since then; a fellow book club member who shares many of my reading tastes gave it the highest praises, citing it as one of her favorites.
Dodie Smith's classic is about a family living in squalor in an old English castle in the 1930s. Seventeen-year-old Cassandra guides us through the story via her journal pages. She's just on the cusp of childhood and adulthood and not quite certain where she belongs. Her older sister Rose longs for beautiful things and a rich lifestyle. Their father once wrote a great book but has been in a writing slump for years and refuses to get out of it. Stepmother Topaz is an eccentric soul, latching on to art and its creators. And little brother just tries to stay out of it. Life seems pretty mundane until two American brothers suddenly arrive and stir things up (in a nutshell).
I think this was a case of my expectations being too high. I enjoyed this, I really did, but I just didn't see the magic that lots of people have found in the story. Cassandra was introduced as such a strong, independent character as opposed to her sister, a characterization that was reinforced throughout her journal entries. But eventually, I lost faith in her rationality. Cassandra was never as petulant as Rose, but I didn't hold them on such a different level by the end. Maturing as a result of new experiences is one thing; I think the point, by the end, was to show a stronger, more mature Cassandra, but I didn't like the path that took her there, nor felt she was the same independent girl who viewed the world with a naive fascination. And that's something I don't believe Cassandra would have lost, no matter her experiences.
After I finished the book, I finally watched the movie. Sometimes, I actually like the movie version better, as in the cases of Harriet the Spy, Atonement, and Julie & Julia. Minor plot shifts, the visualizations, or an actor's characterization can bring a new dimension to the story. But this one just didn't really add anything. I felt like I was seeing the same exact story I had just read. Maybe it was due to the fact that I wasn't totally enchanted with the story in the first place, but I probably could've skipped it. Except I got to enjoy MB on my TV screen once again. Ahhh.