What to say? Where to begin? I opened the cover of this book with a bit of concern. A close friend of mine had just said she read it and was awfully upset with the ending. Oh no. It was next on my list and I was quite worried. But, I decided to read it anyway.
I was immediately intrigued with the voice. Cassandra is a teenage girl writing in her journal. Her journal sessions make up the book, capturing moments of their life. They live in an old castle -- how cool is that? -- except that it's not so cool because they are extremely poor and living in a cold, dark castle. In the family is Cassandra, Rose, and Thomas (all siblings), their father and stepmother ~ Topaz ~ and some dogs. To me, the family is quite lovely. I love all the quirks. Stephen isn't family, but practically is since he's lived with them since he was young. Though you don't get this in the first bit that Cassandra shares through her journaling, you later find out that Stephen is quite the humble hunk. They meet some Americans who inherit land there in England, Neil, Simon and Co. and they become friends.
Overall, I really did enjoy the book. I was extremely aggravated with Cassandra, though in the end I feel like things worked out for her how they should. I adore Stephen. Simon isn't all that bad either. I really rather respect him for the most part. But all of them, even Stephen, do stupid things that kind of irked me.
This is definitely a "girl" book -- filled with love story. But there are also parts that are funny (like the bear scene at the train station). And as annoyed with Cassandra as I got, I thought she was representative of that age...falling in love, becoming obsessed ad nauseam, making life 1,000,000 times more difficult than it has to be ~ but not too much or else it would have been hard to read. They are not a religious people, but there was a point where Cassandra dabbled into Christianity...but even then, it was short lived. I thought that was even a pretty good representation of people, especially teenagers. How many of us look for answers to anything, and even when you discover it, it's just easier to complain instead. Yeah.
There is a movie version of it that I'd love to see, but it's "R" and I think I know why. There are scenes that were eluded to in the novel...and I'm sure they're there in the movie.
Would I recommend it? I think so. Not to everyone. But I'm glad I read it.