Author: Dodie Smith
Reading Level: Adult
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain starts writing a journal on a whim. At the start she simply details the amusing life of her impoverished family and their life in a crumbling castle, but the arrival of new and interesting neighbors brings changes that will affect the entire Mortmain family forever.
Red Flags: Some occasional mild language (I think?)
My Rating: A
Why it took me so long to read this book I'll never know. Even after I started it, it took me well over a month to read it. Silly. Anyway, this was as lovely as everyone always told me it was. The writing was perfect--casual and readable but also truly insightful and funny. The characters are distinct and interesting. I loved Topaz and her artsy eccentricities and I hoped better for Stephen but, to be honest, I never really warmed to Neil OR Simon.
As the story went on and took more dramatic turns, I was kind of missing the lightheartedness of the beginning and I started to resent the book a bit. But isn't that true to life? You start out having a good, carefree time and as you grow up and life changes, you mature and start to think about things. The fact that Dodie Smith captures that so well and so naturally is really quite impressive. I like that the story has a happy ending, but it's not perfect and it's not all tied up--also like life. It was happy enough to be satisfying and open enough to be real.
Overall, this was a delightful book in every way. The characters, the setting, the humor, the insights and the writing were all spot on. I look forward to adding this book to my shelf one day and rereading it...hopefully a bit faster next time.
"My imagination longs to dash ahead and plan developments; but I have noticed that when things happen in one's imaginings, they never happen in one's life, so I am curbing myself."--ch. 4, p. 42
"...I had the most affectionate feelings for all those furs--no horror of them at all...though I knew they must all have been worn by dead people. I thought about it a lot, getting warmer and warmer in the beaver, and I decided that it was like the difference between the beautiful old Godsend graves and the new ones open to receive coffins (which I never can bear to look at); that time takes the ugliness and horror out of death and turns it into beauty."--ch. 6, p. 88
"...I think religion has a chance of a look-in whenever the mind craves solace in music and poetry--in any form of art at all. Personally, I think it is an art, the greatest one; an extension of the communion all the other arts attempt."--ch. 13, p. 247
"'Sounds like the lost souls of sea gulls, doesn't?' he shouted above the din."--ch. 13, p. 264