Happy Birthday, Jane Austen

To celebrate Jane’s birthday, I finished Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. Smith is better known for her children’s story of One Hundred and One Dalmatians, but Castle was written in 1948, set in 1930s Britain, and has never been out of print.

This not-quite parallel version of Pride and Prejudice, written in the Bridget Jones Diary style – has seventeen-year old Cassandra recording the highlights of six months that changed the lives of everyone in her eccentric family.

The book follows the lives of two poor sisters, Rose and Cassandra, living in a worn-down English castle with their once famous father, who wrote that one very good book twelve years ago, never reprised his success, and now spends his days reading detective novels.  Their handsome American landlords, Simon and Neil, add the romance and conflict, and save the day.

The style is old-fashioned; the story romantic intrigue; the language – a period piece.  Unless you are a fan of  Jane Austen, you may get bogged down in the minutia, but in true Jane Austen style, I Capture the Castle is charming and full of clever notes…

“Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.”

And  the 2003 movie version stays true to the book and will make you want to read Jane Austen again.