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 responses to “Mysterious Box: Slice of Life 22/31 #sol20”

  1. sallydonnelly11 Avatar

    Thanks for sharing this prompt! And I don’t know the book you picked so thanks for a new title to check out.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s a fun prompt to think about. And definitely look for I Capture the Castle. So good!

  2. dianeandlynne Avatar

    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.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Jane Austen definitely came to mind! For me, it would have to be P&P or Emma, I think. P&P would probably get us better walks!

      1. dianeandlynne Avatar

        Yes, better walks for sure.

  3. arjeha Avatar

    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.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I agree! That would be an awesome thing to see, though I think they went up slowly so we might need some very long lives!

  4. mrsday75 Avatar

    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.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I don’t think I’ve read Inkheart! But I love the idea of slipping into one of my favorite fantasy novels and living there for awhile.

  5. Sarah Parker Avatar

    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.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s got such a fantastic beginning. Not sure how anyone who loves reading and writing could resist that opener!

      1. Sarah Parker Avatar

        I agree. I will be looking for it in my library feed.

  6. clarejlandrigan Avatar

    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 …

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Ha! I thought for sure my mom would choose Jane Austen but in her words “life was too primitive then.”

  7. margaretsmn Avatar

    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.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      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!

  8. cmargocs Avatar

    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.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Oh wow, yes, I’d like to join Anne Morrow Lindbergh in that beach house too. That’s a fantastic idea.

  9. jarhartz Avatar

    I have not read this book, but I simply must have it and perhaps live in it for a while. Smith had me at “tea-cozy.”

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Oh, I think you will find it charming! So many good sentences and just a lovely world to sink into for awhile.

  10. edifiedlistener Avatar

    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!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Ha, good point! I have the same issue with so many of my favorite books. Favorite novel of the year so far: The Nickel Boys. Would I like to live in it? HECK NO!

  11. Susan Kennedy Avatar

    So perfect. I love that book. I might have to find and reread it. I’ll get back to you about my choice.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m so glad my copy is handy on the shelf for a reread. Now that I’ve written about it, I am eager for a reread.

  12. Amanda Potts Avatar

    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.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      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.

  13. hsatlas Avatar

    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.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Oh, that’s a wonderful choice. Yes, I could happily spend the day with Mrs. Dalloway in London. Hmm, now I want to reread Woolf….

  14. natashadomina Avatar

    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.)

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      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.

  15. karpenglish Avatar

    I love I Capture the Castle! Why does it always feel so bright and romantic when it really should be bleak and depressing?

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Exactly! It really should feel bleak and depressing, but somehow it’s so light and bright. Now I want to do a blog post “If you love I capture the castle, what should you read next….”

      1. karpenglish Avatar

        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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