During our 24th YA book club we discussed the classic I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Our group was very torn. Some loved it, while others thought the book was a little boring and that the characters weren’t very likable. No matter on which part of the discussion you fall, we’re still going to recommend some books for further reading. One book that will fit right in with the YA-theme and another that is supposedly for grown-ups, but awesome for everyone. At the end we also have some possible discussion questions for anyone talking about this book with their own book club.

Code Name Verity
Elizabeth Wein

The author of Code Name Verity adores ICTC and based the mid-century England of her novel mostly on the setting of Dodie Smith’s. Also both books have great strong female characters.

I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine – and I will do anything, anything to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France – an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.

Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë

Brontë and Austen are often mentioned in ICTC, but I went for Brontë, because the vicar likens Cassandra to Jane Eyre. Besides Brontë and Austen, I’d also highly recommend that you read Middlemarch if you enjoyed this one, but then again I’ll always highly recommend that one.

As an orphan, Jane’s childhood is full of trouble, but her stubborn independence and sense of self help her to steer through the miseries inflicted by cruel relatives and a brutal school. A position as governess at the Thornfield Hall promises a kind of freedom. But Thornfield is a house full of secrets, its master a passionate, tormented man, and before long Jane faces her greatest struggle in a choice between love and self-respect.

Possible Discussion Questions:

  • What did you think of the diary as a story-telling device?
  • Discuss the meaning of the title.
  • Do you believe that Cassandra’s love for Simon was just ‘calf-love’ or what it something more serious?
  • How do you imagine the rest of Cassandra’s life turning out?
  • How’s the idea of marriage and domestic life different in this novel than it is in Austen’s novels?

So what would you recommend to people who enjoyed I Capture the Castle? Let us know!

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