Thursday, April 19, 2012

Audiobook Review: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Audiobook reviewed by Christina
(See Lucia's review of the print version here.

Published: 1949; audiobook 2010

It's about: The Mortmains are a genteel but poor family living in a castle in England in the early 1930's. Precocious teenaged Cassandra narrates her own coming of age through the romantic escapades that ensue when the family meets a pair of wealthy American brothers.

I thought: Lovely! I really enjoyed this well-written, amusing novel. Cassandra is a delightful narrator, and I, like Lucia, loved her apt observations and descriptions of both natural nature and human nature. The eccentric Mortmain family get themselves into some pretty absurd situations, but there's very little high drama in this book so it's easy and pleasant to read. (It's the perfect polar opposite of my last audiobook endeavor, The Millennium Series.)

Emilia Fox reads the audiobook, and she does a decent job. She doesn't get carried away with doing a "voice" for every character, but there is enough of a difference to tell who is talking. Sometimes the Americans sounded a little Irish, but in general I was pleased with her performance. My only real complaint is that the book doesn't have chapters, and Ms. Fox didn't pause very long during section breaks. Sometimes she pretty much plowed right through, which I found disorienting.

Here's something kind of funny about this particular recording: it's punctuated occasionally by short classical musical interludes. Toward the end of some sections music would suddenly spring up behind the reader's voice, carrying on for a few seconds after she finished reading. I thought it was pretty cheesy and unnecessary. A couple of times it actually startled me. Has anyone else encountered this in an audiobook?

Verdict: It's not a life-changer or anything, but I'd still definitely stick it on the shelf!

Reading Recommendations: This short and sweet novel would make a great holiday read. I'd especially recommend it to any Jane Austen enthusiast. It has a similar but slightly more modern feel.

Warnings: none

Favorite excerpts: Cassandra is full of observations about life like these:
“Contemplation seems to be about the only luxury that costs nothing.”
“Perhaps watching someone you love suffer can teach you even more than suffering yourself can.”
“There is something revolting about the way girls' minds so often jump to marriage long before they jump to love.”

What I'm listening to next: The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall