Cassandra Mortmain, from I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
As played by Romola Garai in the 2003 film adaptation:
In I Capture the Castle, Cassandra Mortmain is a 17-year-old living with her eccentric family in a decrepit old castle in England, circa the mid-1930s. When I first picked up this book at age 13, I didn’t know anything about it except that I loved the title. I was expecting a medieval romance or fantasy story. Instead I got a 20th-century Austen-esque story that made me laugh out loud. It has everything. Wit, wisdom, castles, dances, poverty, wealth, a pagan stepmom, a possibly-insane father, love-hexagons (really). I often list this as my favorite book (I have three copies— a first edition, a copy to read, and a copy to loan out), and the reason? I love the narrator, Cassandra Mortmain. She is witty, bookish, smart, astute, wistful, and kind of plain; she lives in the shadow of her beautiful older sister (something that’s definitely relatable). The book is written in the form of Cassandra’s journal, and her innermost thoughts are hilarious— I could give you a rundown of the whole story, but instead of doing that, I will just say this: Cassandra grows up in this book. Her journey from passive longing to assertive action is subtle and painful in a way only teenage girls could understand (although I’d recommend the book for both teens and adults). She continues to inspire me to this day.
Curious about the rest of my answers? Find a list of them here.