As this coming-of-age drama opens, best-selling author James (Bill Nighy) sees a crumbling old castle and immediately falls in love with it. Thinking it the perfect place to write his sequel, he moves his family into it. Twelve years later, he hasn't been able to write a word and the family is penniless. Daughters Rose (Rose Byrne) and Cassandra (Romola Garai) hate living in the isolated ruin and are desperately tired of being poor. The new landlords come to visit; Simon Cotton (Henry Thomas) and his brother are rich, young, and single. Rose sets her sights on Simon and vows to marry him for his money, even if she doesn't love him. And younger sister Cassandra wants very much to be in love, too.
The story is narrated by Cassandra as she writes in her diary. Romola Garai is perfect as the plain, thoughtful younger sister, the lovely Byrne is convincing as the flirty big sister, and Henry Thomas is a sincere suitor. Bill Nighy steals the show with his larger-than-life personality and manic behavior. The year 1936 is reproduced in fine detail, and the English countryside is beautifully photographed. It's a sweet little movie about growing up and learning to accept one's family that would most appeal to teens, I think.