Newest Review: ... commentary. The book, written by Louis De Bernieres, is about a young Greek girl named Pelagia, who is far more educated than the... more
Member Name: SpiderJamb
Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis de Bernieres
Advantages: Beautiful love story, set against the second World War
Disadvantages: Tough to get into at first, ending may annoy some
I'll preface this review by stating outright that this is possibly my favourite book of all time, even to the point where I can find a place in my heart for the critically despised 2001 movie adaptation, starring Nicholas Cage. I first read this book about 10 years ago whilst in school as it was recommended to me by a Teacher and while I found it hard to understand at first, there are a lot of historical references at the beginning (not to mention a lot of shifts in narrative for the first five or six chapters) but once I persevered with it, I found a charming, heartfelt story underneath the historical commentary.
The book, written by Louis De Bernieres, is about a young Greek girl named Pelagia, who is far more educated than the other girls in her village due to being the Doctor's daughter. Despite her intelligence, she remains na´ve in the ways of love and falls for the local fisherman, Mandras. This love is tested when Mandras leaves for war and she realises her feelings for him were more lust than love and she begins to fall for one of the invading soldiers, Captain Antonio Corelli, who has been stationed at her house during the occupation of Cephallonia. What starts out as an innocent attraction becomes more serious as the dark shadow of the Second World War approaches.
This story really kicks into gear once the Italians rebel against the Germans and the former invaders become allies with the Greek. The story shifts from the initial pleasant, yet foreboding tone into a more serious and melancholic one. It really highlights the personal loss and sacrifice that comes with war.
Some people dislike the ending and initially I felt the same, but since re-reading the book at the beginning of this year, I have a greater appreciation for it, perhaps because I knew it was coming and it wasn't quite as frustrating after ten years ruminating over it. Another aspect of my appreciation for the ending came from the BBC Radio play adaptation, which unlike the movie, kept the book's ending and the speed at which it is delivered in comparison to the rest of the book made it seem less drawn out than it felt upon my initial reading.
One of my favourite features of this book is the multitude of characters that De Bernieres populates the village with, both prominent and minor, and their relevant story paths which occasionally intersect with the main narrative. He repeats this feat with his later book, A Bird Without Wings, which I read about six years ago and is just as good a read, but I wasn't as familiar with the historical setting as I was with World War II.
This Review was originally posted on my blog
Summary: One of my all-time favourite reads - I recommend it