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Captain Corelli's Mandolin [Paperback]

Louis de Bernieres
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (404 customer reviews)
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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 (404 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,492 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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37 of 43 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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Over Rated 29 Oct 1999
When I was about half way through this book I caught an article on the radio which stated that Captain Correlli's Mandolin is a classic of its time. If I hadn't been told I would never have known!! I found it to be enjoyable, but no more. It is beautifully written, but the characters are somewhat shallow. My recommendation would be to read it, if for no other reason than to see what all the fuss is about, but stop about 50 pages from the end when the plot line completely fails and becomes nothing but cheese! Give it a go. You'll enjoy it but I think you'll also be a little disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Is the symbolism not so apparent? 11 July 2000
By A Customer
I read the book (paperback in English) both in laugh and tears and I still wonder why I was moved so much. It was not the knowledge of modern Greece in its finest details, other books show this too. At first, I thought that it wakened up old memories; the three skeletons we found at the excavation for the foundation of our village school in Crete (by voluntary work), the bag of rotten Lee Enfield cartridges, the pieces of a Stucas plane that crushed close to the village and left the ground black until the 60's, my friend who lost a leg when he played with a hand grenade,... But no, it was not that. The thing that troubled me was the same as with other readers: its silly end. Then I realised that the writer had no choice. The symbolism behind the book obliged him to this end. Also the names he chose have their meaning. It is not a romance. It is a philosophical book on the western civilisation, its greek roots but also the continuous support that modern Greece provides to it. I try to explain without spoiling the new readers. Pelagia, the one born in the see, is Greece herself, only supported by her father Yannis, the pure logic as it really is, not as perceived in the west (remember how the Ioannis gospel starts?) and her to-be-mother-in-law Drosoula, the morning coolness, the ugly but so beautiful and ruthless primitiveness, fights the evil and falls in love with the good side of the West when it is abandoned even by its own people. She fights against her own first beloved who failed to tell her how much he loved her and attempted to rape her before being totally rejected and destroyed. She recollects the abandoned bastard to make a good greek person out of her, to start all over again. The West returns her promises when she needs them the least but still she forgives. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 4 hours 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 2 days ago by Dave Cole
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Probably my favourite book to date. A carefully crafted storyline
Published 11 days 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 11 days ago by Elizabeth McNeill
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
2nd time read for me...I love this book. It has all going on so you'll laugh and cry.
Published 14 days ago by dee
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Great Item Fast delivery
Published 17 days ago by Dave
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite authors, able to weave lyrical prose to conjure...
One of my favourite authors, able to weave lyrical prose to conjure magic from them. Here he evokes the spirit, the fun of Kefalonia, and overlays it with the horror and futility... Read more
Published 19 days ago by Susan Andrews
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful
I read this whilst on holiday in Kefalonia. I appreciated the island even more as a result - weaving together as it does heart wrenching historical truths, a beautiful love story... Read more
Published 24 days ago by Miss Alison Margaret Fellows
3.0 out of 5 stars Condition of book was very good and the price excellent
Heard a lot about this book had not had a chance to read it yet. Condition of book was very good and the price excellent.
Published 27 days ago by chocolic gran
5.0 out of 5 stars Captain Corelli
An excellent read and the film is true to this book. Nicholas Cage was right as Captain Corelli Fantastic film
Published 1 month ago by kayemarian
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