"I write this sitting at the kitchen sink" is the first line of a novel about love, sibling rivalry, and a bohemian existence in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. Cassandra Mortmin's journal records her fadingly glamorous stepmother, her beautiful, wistful older sister, and the man to whom they owe both their isolation and poverty: Father. The author of one experimental novel, and a minor cause celebre, he has since suffered from writer's block and is determined to drag his family down with him.
Toby Jones and Holliday Grainger star in a new BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of Dodie Smith's enduringly popular coming-of-age novel. In the 1930s, 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain lives in a crumbling ruin of a castle in the Suffolk countryside. Her father, an author wrestling with writer's block, spends his time reading detective stories; her bohemian stepmother, Topaz, is an artist's model; and her beautiful older sister, Rose, is determined to escape the poverty of their existence - ideally by marriage to a rich man.
The head of the Mortmain family is Cassandra Mortmain’s father, a writer suffering from writer's block who has not published anything since his first book, a hit entitled, Jacob Wresstling. Ten years before the story begins, he took out a forty-year lease on a dilapidated but beautiful castle, hoping to find either inspiration or isolation there; now, his family is selling off the furniture to buy food.