Mysterious Box: Slice of Life 22/31 #sol20

It should be something long, maybe a series, because we have a lot of time to fill here, and there should be warmth and color and an abundance of good food and at least one knowing cat. The air should smell vaguely spicy, and there should be travel and wide open spaces and adventure. Perhaps friendly dragons.

Instead, the book that immediately comes to mind is Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle.

The Mortmains are mostly stuck at home, very much like quarantine, in their damp and chilly crumbling castle, and there is never enough food and never good food at that. It’s the kind of story where you shiver throughout and feel the need to make yourself a warm cup of tea. There is a very fine cat and one of literature’s finest dogs, but the adventure is limited to wondering what Papa Mortmain is up to behind his locked study door, where Cassandra will write today, and whether the rich marriageable American next door will fall in love with Rose. The days seem mostly gray (this is Britain after all), and there are no dragons.

Still, it is a novel that transports from the very first paragraph.

There is something light and buoyant and hopeful and fully absorbing about the Mortmains and their castle.

I Capture the Castle is an unreasonable choice for the novel I’d most like to live in for a few days, yet I love it.

What novel would you magically transport yourself into?

33 thoughts on “Mysterious Box: Slice of Life 22/31 #sol20

  1. What a great prompt! I would live inside a Jane Austen world with its witty conversations and long walks in the air. It would give me the opportunity to practice my quipping skills. I’d have to think hard about which novel, though.

  2. This is a great prompt. I think it would be interesting to get a group of people together and hear their responses and reasons for their choices. Not sure which novel I would choose, but I was fascinated by Ken Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth”. I think it would be interesting to watch the great cathedrals being built.

  3. What a great prompt. I’m going to have to think about this one for a while. But I definitely have some idea. The thing is, Inkheart keeps running through my head.

  4. I love the book you shared and the prompt that came with it. The idea of lifting a line is a great way to encourage others to read it. And I’m hooked. I’m curious about this little gem of a book and spending some time in the castle.

  5. Wow – that is a tough one. Many of my all-time favorite books are not about I time I would like to go. Maybe that says something about my reading preferences …

  6. Before we left school, one of my students taught me how to get Overdrive for library books. So this is my first. I know I’m slow to catch on.

    • Oh glad you got Overdrive! (I think Libby is a bit more user friendly so if you’re finding Overdrive clunky, try Libby. Same service but a different interface.) Now you will have books at your fingertips whenever you need them!

  7. Oooh, what an interesting premise! I would very much like to be in the beach-house occupied by Anne Morrow Lindbergh as chronicled in her timeless book, Gift from the Sea. Time alone to read and think and write WHILE living by the sea brings social distancing to a different, life-enhancing level.

  8. Oh How I struggle with this kind of prompt. In the novels I read the people are so rarely happy for any length of time which is why I enjoy reading about them without having to actually know them. I might choose the first book of The Land of Stories, though, to have the benefit of some adventure that’s not immediately life threatening!

  9. I love I Capture the Castle. Did you know that it was briefly out of print and then, apparently, a whole bunch of mothers suddenly had daughters who they wanted to read the book & there were so many requests that they reprinted it? Or so the story goes. I’d forgotten how it opened, but I could never forget Cassandra’s voice. She’s just great – makes me think a little of Anne of Green Gables. As for where I would go… well I’m just going to have to think about that one. I think I’d like someplace cosy. Austen would be good, maybe, but… the more I think about it, the more I realize that my favourite books are often ones that are a little more, um, *exciting* than books I actually want to, you know, live in. Am now going to be thinking about this for ages.

    • That’s exactly it–I don’t want to live in a book that’s too exciting! A little very mild adventure is good, but it needs to be super gentle. Cassandra’s voice! I also didn’t realize that Dodie Smith had written anything else besides 101 Dalmations, which I’ve never read, but she has other novels, three of which I just purchased for cheap through Thriftbooks. I will let you know if they are also full of wonderful voice and writing.

  10. Great writing and thinking prompt! I’m realizing so many of the novels I’ve read are set in strange, unsettling times. But it’d be so interesting to be around Mrs. Dalloway in Virginia Woolf’s novel, Mrs, Dalloway. I’ve always been fascinated by her and wouldn’t mind hanging around her world for awhile. Thanks for this interesting conversation.

  11. I love, love your description of what kind of book you’d like to live in: “It should be something long, maybe a series, because we have a lot of time to fill here, and there should be warmth and color and an abundance of good food and at least one knowing cat. The air should smell vaguely spicy, and there should be travel and wide open spaces and adventure. Perhaps friendly dragons. ” Such beautiful, evocative writing! As for which book I’d want to live in….the last person’s comment about Anne of Green Gables has got me thinking that that might be a nice world to live in for a while. (Though in the summer months–not sure I would want to live there in the winter. Or maybe in the spring–I’ve always wanted to see the may flowers that she describes.)

    • So interesting that Anne of Green Gables has come up a couple of times here. I don’t know that I ever made it through that one, though I was a huge fan of Emily of New Moon when I was younger. But I did love the graphic novel adaptation from last year–just wonderful.

      • Coincidentally, I just read about one called A Sky Painted Gold which was described as “perfect for fans of I Captured the Castle.” I was surprised, because I always thought it was a fairly obscure book.

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