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Captain Corelli's Mandolin [Paperback]

Louis de Bernieres
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (410 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

1 Jun 1998


It is 1941 and Captain Antonio Corelli, a young Italian officer, is posted to the Greek island of Cephallonia as part of the occupying forces. At first he is ostracised by the locals, but as a conscientious but far from fanatical soldier, whose main aim is to have a peaceful war, he proves in time to be civilised, humorous - and a consumate musician.

When the local doctor's daughter's letters to her fiancé - and members of the underground - go unanswered, the working of the eternal triangle seems inevitable. But can this fragile love survive as a war of bestial savagery gets closer and the lines are drawn between invader and defender?

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Product details

  • Paperback: 534 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Edition edition (1 Jun 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749397543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749397548
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (410 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

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 Bernières is well known for his forays into magical realism in such novels as The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts, Señor 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 Bernières 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.


"Hypnotic...a vast tapestry woven in tiny, colourful, intricate detail...a graphic and moving commentary on the futility of war. This magical book stayed in my head long after I had finished it" (Marian Keyes)

"A wonderful epic has made him a name to conjure with. Both on the large and the small scale it is an absorbing and memorable book...the sweep, invention and warmth of the novel carries one effortlessly along" (Derwent May The Times)

"Captain Corelli's Mandolin achieves that rare feat of saying something new about war...fusing with remarkable felicity the cosmic and the tragic, the lyrical and the epic... And without offering easy answers, it poses difficult questions about love and suspicion, trust and betrayal, faith and despair, creativity and destruction" (André Brink Times Literary Supplement)

"Louis de Bernières is in the direct line that runs through Dickens and Evelyn Waugh...he has only to look into his world, one senses, for it to rush into reality, colours and touch and taste" (Evening Standard)

"An emotional, funny, stunning novel which swings with wide smoothnes s between joy and bleakness, personal lives and's lyrical and angry, satirical and earnest" (Observer)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a warm, comic romance 6 Jan 2002
By A Customer
one of my favourites of all time, as it is not only hilarious and romantic, but vividly descriptive and horribly tragic, all at the same time. whatever you do, don't watch the film! it's a terrible attempt to recreate the magic of the novel, and fails badly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Wartime Love Story! 16 Sep 2008
This book is a fantastic read that starts toward the end of World War 2 and covers generations.
The tale tells of a young Greek girl and an eccentric Italian Captain finding love during the Italian "occupation" of the Greek island of Cephallonia, although the Italian army hardly treats it as such due to disenchantment with having to fight for reasons & ideals they do not share with their leaders.
The author creates extremely tangible scenes, people & feelings that you're left feeling like you really knew the characters & places.
There are a few strange plot-holes but this in no way detracts from the overall story and I was actually quite gutted that it had to end!
A really good read that everyone will enjoy & appreciate I think.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Until recently I was studying this novel for my A-level English Lit. exam. It was the only one out of my four 'prescribed' texts that I took full pleasure in reading.
The book,(which moved me to tears TWICE - not something that happens too often),is a skillfully crafted story of love and war and displays the kind of narrative that makes you want to savour every word. It has something for everone really, if you're a romantic read it; if you like history read it; if you like comedy read it, it doesn't matter what kind of person you are - unless your heart is made of stone you cannot fail to be moved.
My one disclaimer is that the ending is slightly disappointing;rushed and not totally convincing, nevertheless you won't regret reading it!
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1995, Captain Corelli's Mandolin follows for sixty years the life of Pelagia and those who love her, beginning in World War II, when she and her father, a doctor on the small Greek island of Cephalonia, first get drawn into the war. Attractive and intelligent, Pelagia thinks herself in love with Mandras, an illiterate Greek fisherman who leaves for war. When the island is overtaken by the ineffectual Italian army, Captain Antonio Corelli is billeted in their small house. Corelli, whose response to "Heil, Hitler" was once "Heil, Puccini," is a musician, a mandolin player, who quickly establishes a singing group (meeting in the company's latrines) in preference to waging war. By the time the wounded Mandras returns, Pelagia and Corelli are in love.
Author deBernieres vividly depicts the various political movements which play out in Cephalonia--the Italian occupation; the German "cleansing" in which the Germans, nearly defeated in Europe, exact revenge on the Italians who have, with a change of government, withdrawn their support; and the later Communist insurgency in Greece and their opposition by fascist partisans. Always connecting these events to the lives of Pelagia, her father, Mandras, and Corelli, the author gracefully depicts the impact of political changes on the lives of ordinary people.
The horrors of the German revenge on the Italians reflect the wartime mentality and contrast with the good feelings various participants have been able to engender on a personal level. With the withdrawal of the Italians and Germans, the horrors of internecine warfare within the Greek community, and the extremes to which partisans, including Mandras, are willing to go are subjected to microscopic views.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
When I finished this book I had a different view on both life and people and I encouraged everyone to read it for its wit, its intense love and its beauty. Im not saying it was life changing but it was thoroughly absorbing: de Bernieres ability to make me laugh and smile against my will and at the same draw copious amounts of tears was remarkable. All the characters are very human and appealing despite their numerous flaws and inevitable tragic fate. It is a touching portrayal of love both, homosexual and heterosexual, and the conflicts within people that arise at times of war. It also proves that love is not merely for the young but also for the old, and that it does often survive. It is not merely a love tale, it is full of history, fighting, comedy and pain and as my english professor repeatedly says it is worth reading because even if you do not find it enjoyable it will increase your vocabulary and knowledge of myth and the war ten fold! I warn you that the first few chapters are difficult but if you persevere you will find it thoroughly rewarding.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and deeply moving. 14 Aug 2002
By A Customer
Thi is one of the best books I have ever read. It is both well written and entertaining. The beginning is quite difficult and long winded and it took two attempts for me to get through it, but it was well worth it. the charecters are believable and interesting. This is not a story for those who like a fairy-tale ending but for those who like something more real and gritty. Do not be put off if you have seen the awful film adaptation as the two really bear no resemblance to one another. This is a rewarding book which will affect both your emotions and opinions in many ways.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it
It went on a bit!
Published 1 day ago by Norma SMITH
3.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read
I found the style of writing difficult. The story was confusing and not what I expected.
Published 1 day ago by Mr. G. Craig
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Well written and an excellent story.
Published 15 days ago by Annie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Much better than the film. The chapter with "snails" made me laugh & cry.
Published 20 days ago by Mrs E. M. HITCHCOTT
4.0 out of 5 stars I found this book quite entertaining and easy to read
I found this book quite entertaining and easy to read, not exactly a page turner but a good story none the less. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Kay Dee
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic!
Just finished my second reading if this book! I read it a few years ago and whilst I found it hard to "get into", after about 100 pages, it's absolutely un- put-down able! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mrs S M Bentham
5.0 out of 5 stars Read the book first.
Long, sometimes random, great read though, the film, as always, doesn't do it justice.
Published 1 month ago by T. Read
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to get into
Actually bought as a gift for my wife before a forthcoming holiday in Kefalonia. She found it hard to get into but eventually enjoyed it.
Published 1 month ago by Dave Cole
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Probably my favourite book to date. A carefully crafted storyline
Published 1 month ago by Mrs JM Johnson
3.0 out of 5 stars I was disappointed when I received the book to find that it ...
I was disappointed when I received the book to find that it was a library reject with attendant stamping (this was not stated) with endpapers and initial pages ripped out in such a... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Elizabeth McNeill
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