I ve had this book for years after accidentally stealing it from College we were asked to pick two books on a table to take home over the Summer to read and I chose this and Catch 22, but when I returned the following term I was in a different class and simply forgot, about half a dozen times, to return them and subsequently have had it since and have finally gotten around to reading it after starting and stopping it a few times.
It is kind of a story of two halves, one concerning the Second World War occupation of the Greek island of Cephallonia and the other concerning the inhabitants of said island as they deal with the war, love and attempts at writing Greek histories.
It is sublimely written in places there were times when I was completely lost in the prose, especially when Berini res wrote about love in exactly the way I feel about it and not many authors have ever been able to convey beforeLove is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides And when it subsides, you have to make a decision You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part Because this is what love is Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body No, don t blush, I am telling you some truths That is just being in love , which any fool can do Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident But then there were times when it was just dull and uninviting and I felt like it had dived too hard to the bottom of the ocean and it didn t seem like it would ever rise to the surface again It was an odd journey to go on, not only as we follow the plot and the various love interests of the characters, but how the writing could go from the sublime to the rather ordinary.
It is a beautiful book, but it was just let down by trying to be far superior with every single word, instead of having its moments and being satisfied with that Definitely one to pick up and, if you do, really try to stick with it through to the end because it will touch your soul, but you have to work for it.
Blog Instagram Twitter Pinterest Shop Etsy De Bernieres style falls between Vonnegut and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and if that doesn t make your head spin and pants feel hot then I don t know what will It s ridiculously European, in every good sense of the word It s an epic romance for nihilists and atheists.
The only two horrors come from the realization that the book is now out of print, and that it was already filmed with Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz Satan s hand is everywhere unseen Captain Corelli S Mandolin Is Set In The Early Days Of The Second World War, Before Benito Mussolini Invaded Greece Dr Iannis Practices Medicine On The Island Of Cephalonia, Accompanied By His Daughter, Pelagia, To Whom He Imparts Much Of His Healing Art Even When The Italians Do Invade, Life Isn T So Bad At First Anyway The Officer In Command Of The Italian Garrison Is The Cultured Captain Antonio Corelli, Who Responds To A Nazi Greeting Of Heil Hitler With His Own Heil Puccini , And Whose Most Precious Possession Is His Mandolin It Isn T Long Before Corelli And Pelagia Are Involved In A Heated Affair Despite Her Engagement To A Young Fisherman, Mandras, Who Has Gone Off To Join Greek Partisans Love Is Complicated Enough In Wartime, Even When The Lovers Are On The Same Side And For Corelli And Pelagia, It Becomes Increasingly Difficult To Negotiate The Minefield Of Allegiances, Both Personal And Political, As All Around Them Atrocities Mount, Former Friends Become Enemies And The Ugliness Of War Infects Everyone It Touches British Author Louis De Berni Res Is Well Known For His Forays Into Magical Realism In Such Novels As The War Of Don Emmanuel S Nether Parts, Se Or Vivo And The Coca Lord And The Troublesome Offspring Of Cardinal Guzman Here He Keeps It To A Minimum, Though Certainly The Secondary Characters With Whom He Populates His Island The Drunken Priest, The Strongman, The Fisherman Who Swims With Dolphins Would Be At Home In Any Of His Wildly Imaginative Latin American Fictions Instead, De Berni Res Seems Interested In Dissecting The Nature Of History As He Tells His Ever Darkening Tale From Many Different Perspectives Captain Corelli S Mandolin Works On Many Levels, As A Love Story, A War Story And A Deconstruction Of Just What Determines The Facts That Make It Into The History books The ancient Greeks treated tragedy and comedy as separate genres But this Greek drama is a hybrid Tragedy on the large and small canvas comedy from individual characters Such contrasts can strengthen one s reaction to both extremes, but for me, this particular book might have worked better if de Berni res had focused primarily on one or the other.
I see its charm This is a feelgood book, filled with bucolic delights, entertaining Characters borderline caricatures and slapstick , and saccharine sun But they are contrasted with war, loss, and the pragmatics of making do Humour, love, and music soften the graphically portrayed toll of war and tectonics.
Some of the writing is beautiful, and some of it is funny I was captivated by the opening paragraph and loved the first chapter But I was bored by the second chapter, and nervous when I started the third The final, near contemporary, chapters were simultaneously predictable and implausible It s as if de Berni res wanted a happy ish ending, but not a happy middle, and went to ludicrous lengths to achieve it.
That patchy experience, with many different voices, styles, and genres, was repeated throughout a bitty book, hence a bitty review Like a visitor to the island, I ambled from beautiful beaches to rocky outcrops, along smooth pavements and disintegrating paths, from mountains to fields, from tourist towns to ancient villages, ever unsure of what I would encounter next Maybe the rose tinted hues of sangria would have helped I think this is probably an objective 4 , but my experience ranged from 2 to 4 , averaging 3 The Distorting Lenses of History and Ideology History repeats itself, first as tragedy, and then again as tragedy.
More no plot spoilers view spoiler Cephallonia was settled so long ago that a veil blurs the boundary between myth and history It is sometimes claimed as the home of Odysseus, and today, the enormous ancient olive trees have an air of patient omniscience.
The backdrop is a detailed history of the Italian and then German occupation in WW2, including international geopolitics and detailed battle tactics Not my thing Fortunately, de Berni res tells the story from local perspectives, as well as that of global victors.
Italian soldier, Carlo Guercio, believes history should be the anecdotes of the little people he himself is physically huge Dr Iannis is little in the grand scheme of things, but a figure of towering importance in his village He spends many years writing a detailed history of the island, but is frustrated that his own passion makes objectivity impossible, creating not so much a history as a lament Or a tirade And then history happens before my very eyes Later, his daughter, Pelagia, continues his work, putting her own spin on things.
Many characters are deeply conscious of their roots But the atrocities of war, driven by persuasive demagogues touting totalitarian ideologies communist and fascist transform minds, hearts, loyalties, and lives forever.
People are separated from their heritage, their future, their families, and even their sanity If you believe strongly enough in your cause, Death is not an enemy, but a brother , whether to embrace for its own sake, or to save others.
In the final chapters, capitalism, tourism, and hedonism herald further transformation for those on the island hide spoiler Lyrical Took my breath away and broke my heart Greece War Decency of soldiers Indecency of war Monsters Humans Where Cats Young girl s bed Old woman s dream Ending And of course the Mandolin Did I mention, Greece It is never too late Love may get ole but if it is real then it s never forgotten nor forgiven It can survive a war, it did and it survived them, in spite of each other It survived the shuffle in the company of humans.
What an incredible story I loved the interplay between Captain Corelli and his beautiful Greek love An historical fiction, the fact of Italian invasion as part of Axis powers, the facts are well researched and woven into an unforgettable experience He is initially bleached with a young woman and her father Unlike and utterly disdained, the captain ultimately finds he loves this woman However, Italy s defeat requires changes These changes are life altering Be prepared for a wonderful and unforgettable book Easily read, a book which teaches what war can ravage, and an amazing story which is most highly recommended A MUST read This is the first time I ve ever given a book one starI actually feel sort of bad doing it Despite it being well written, it s pacing was terrible, and I really had to fight to get through it And then the ending oh the ending After trudging through nearly 600 pages, the ending was about the most unsatisying I have ever read I literally threw the book against the wall when I was done And some idiot decided to make a movie out of it, with Nic Cage as Corelli I can only imagine how awful it must have been.
Stunning Mesmerizing Remarkable Beautiful, beautiful love story I just scanned the 121 books that I ve already read belonging to 1001 books You Must read Before You Die and there seem to be not too many books that could be considered as predominantly love stories There is Jane Austen s Pride and Prejudice but we all knew about it even before actually reading the book so there was no element of surprise There is Haruki Murakami s Sputnik Sweetheart but it has fantasy interwoven in the story like people disappearing in trees, people being transformed while riding a ferris wheel, etc so it is not a straightforward pure honest love story Also Sputnik fell out from the list in its 2010 version.
Set in the beautiful island of Cephallonia now Kefalonia in Greece during World War II, Louis de Bernieres British, born 1954 Captain Corelli s Mandolin, first published in 1993, sizzles with love, music and honesty Love here is not just the usual erotic love between a man and a woman The main protagonist, the beautiful Pelagia is in love with the handsome gentleman, Mandras who joins the Greek guerilla Then Pelagia meets the mandolin playing Italian captain, Corelli and falls love for him too Theirs is a forbidden love since Pelagia is still betrothed to Mandras and Corelli is an Italian whose country is at war with Greece and the Allies Although living in the same house, they choose not to make love so as not to complicate the situation When they say their dreams they are always prefixed with After the war Love so painfully forbidden yet so pure and honest Right love in a wrong place and time.
The other love is fatherly love between Pelagia and her doctor father, Dr Iannis Theirs is a nurturing love based on respect and trust There is a scene where Dr Iannis is telling Pelagia that he sees the love blossoming between Pelagia and Corelli He does not condone it He just gives the consequences of continuing that love Pelagia takes it maturely When the time comes that my own daughter falls in love with a man, I hope I ll have the same fortitude and maturity that Dr Iannis has in that scene Powerful.
The last significant love that this novel includes is the homosexual heroic love that Carlo, one of the Greek soldiers, has to his fellow but subordinate soldier, Francesco Carlo keeps his love within himself they are in the Army so that kind of love is taboo When the latter dies, Carlo is devastated because he failed to save him Then Carlo meets Corelli who is his superior This time he shields his body that spared Corelli s life during the Aqui Massacre September 1943when German soldiers killed by open fire 400,000 Italian soldiers This was the time when Germany was about to lose the war to Allies and they went into killing sprees everywhere in Europe That historical scene is depicted in details in this book that you will surely feel numbed to read another gigantic monstrosity the Germans did during WWII I spent 4 days reading this 436 page book It s an easy read and I could have normally finished this in 2 3 days but Bernieres prose is so delectable that I decided to savor each word closing the book every now and then and imagine myself in that island, hearing the music of mandolin and seeing the face of the sumptuous Penelope Cruz who played the role of Pelagia in the 2001 film based on this book.
I have the pirated copy of that film Many years ago, when I tried viewing it, I stopped after 5 10 minutes It was boring Now that I ve read and liked the book, I should dig my cabinets and give it another chance I just think that the balding Nicholas Cage was a miscast as Corelli BTW, De Berni res strongly disapproved of the film version, commenting,It would be impossible for a parent to be happy about its baby s ears being put on backwardsHe does however state that it has redeeming qualities, and particularly likes the soundtrack.
My lawyer brother says that the books belonging to 501 Must read books yes that s another list and this book is in there too are those that are controversial and not necessarily well written After this book s publication in 1993, the island of Kefalonia became one of the island tourist destinations in Greece Also, obviously, this is well written and as it also landed 19 among 200 listed in Big Read, the 2004 survey done in UK where people voted for their favorite novels.
Maybe writing about Alabat island, where I grew up, in Quezon will not be a bad idea Oh maybe someday.
This is two books The first half is without doubt one of the best novels I have ever read The writing even in translation is lyrical clearly, every word was carefully chosen The characters are exquisitely drawn with humor and humanity The plot, centering on the Italian invasion of a remote Greek island in WWII, is a wonderfully engaging love story It flows amiably along to a logical and satisfying, if not quite happy, ending Unfortuntely, things don t stop there The second half of the book is drek One gets the feeling that de Bernieres presented his publishers with a perfect novella and was told make it longer or, perhaps, but you have to finish the story Whatever the cause, the change in pace, use of language, and sheer thoughtfulness is jarring It s as if the author completely lost interest in his characters, but felt obliged to carry them to some long term conclusion It s a crying shame, because if this book had stopped where it should have, it would be one of the greatest books of the 20th 21st century.
But what makes this utterly brilliant is the prose on top of an unpredictable and thrilling plot The writer is this supernova de Bernieres all 4 of his novels at this point are in my Must read List Here, you realize exactly WHY you read WHY people bother to write if you are Louis De Bernieres you simply cannot not keep producing The gift is almost mythical, and you are compelled to feel that the auteur has had the TIME of his LIFE writing this, writing and falling head over heels in love with his creation which, indeed, depicts LOVE and is, itself, wholly a product of love the love of beautiful prose.
In Corelli , the tricks and poetics already explored in the often lauded Latin American trilogy, collaborate once to make a solid work of art As is customary, just as this tale takes one of its manifold dark turns, when times in the Greek island are dire, desperate and almost hopeless, the titular character appears drives the darkness away This, as if a gift from the Greek gods themselves Or the gift from a master to his drooling spectator.
This, his fourth amazing concoction, puts in evidence the fact that not ALL magic realism belongs to sir Garcia Marquez Louis de Bernieres brand is all his own humorous, unpredictably playful and savagely biting The effect lasts outside of the book the novel is a rotund success My favorite of Louis de Bernieres so far.
I devoured Corelli s Mandolin like some bon vivant living in the 20th century Like a character in one of his novels, in fact I became for a full two days, a blissful accomplice, just grateful to be nothing but a hoodwinked voyeur.