The book is one I had long given up any hopes of ever getting. In Sri Lanka it is very unlikely that a book like this will find itself to a bookshelf in a store and my only hope was to find it tucked away in a second hand bookshop. That is exactly what happened and I just pounced!
The book set in the 1930's is Dodie Smith's first published book. Set amongst the eccentric Mortmain family and having the book written by seventeen year old Cassandra gives the book a very different perspective.Add to the background a crumbling castle, keep, moat and all and you have an intriguing story.
Cassandra though extremely young, knows the exact nuances of not just her step mother and father's characters but also those of her sister Rose and these form the backbone of the story. The family is impoverished to the point of extreme poverty but seem to be happy and life goes on without a care in the world (supposedly though underneath it all some of the family are worried) The father a writer who has had a brilliant first novel does not seem to realize the trouble the family is in and just seems to drift through life. The girls are aware of their extreme poverty and the fact that something has to be done soon, as the adults in the household are oblivious or unwilling to do anything.
The appearance of Simon and Neil from the States throws a goldmine in Rose's way and she is determined to snag the "richer" brother by any means. It appears that it is a genuine case of having fallen in love with someone who just happens to be wealthy and for a time Cassandra is appeased that things are what they seem. The problem arises when she realizes that she herself is in love with her sister's fiancee and that her sister is just in love with the wrong brother!!
The book shows the contrast between the two sisters - how a seventeen year old can be mature far beyond her years and how solving a major issue falls squarely on this young lady. It also through the journal of Cassandra describes a way of life of the period which is very evocative.
I really enjoyed the story and hope that more readers will be able to get their hands on this book.