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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2002
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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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 15 April 2003
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
on 14 August 2002
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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38 of 45 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.
DeBernieres is equally adept at contrasting idealistic young love with the institutionalized mindlessness of political passion, the love of the arts and history with the expediencies of political dogma, and one's personal commitments to other individuals with the commitments to ideologies. Realistic at the same time that it is also romantic, the novel conveys the absurdities of politics and places them within the context of real life. The author's exuberant, descriptive style enlivens the present in Greece while also emphasizing the culture of the past, leading the reader to recognize, ultimately, that in all times, wherever one finds wit and humor, one also finds pathos lurking in the background. Mary Whipple
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2014
This will be my second read of this book, like a classic film a classic book can be enjoyed all over again after a period of time. The first time I read this novel I must admit was because the setting was on our favourite Greek island of Kefalonia, a place we started visiting in the very early 80's and are still visiting today. Louis de Bernieres has given the characters a full and three dimensional feel and captured the feel of the true Greek experience in such a masterful way I cannot wait to revisit this book and will be reading again soon - where? On Kefalonia of course.
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I have never seen the film of this book but everyone who has has told me how it is nowhere near as good. I have had Captain Corelli's Mandolin on my shelf ever since it first came out in paperback but I never read it. The very popularity of the book was one impediment but another reason was the associations I had with the break up of my first marriage. My first wife read the book and quoted to me the book's analogy of a lasting marriage as one of two trees who roots merge even when the bloom of the trees has past. When we parted, she said that she didn't feel we ever had that connection.

Eighteen years on, we have moved on and remarried and started our families. I have often thought back to that conversation and finally decided to read it.

This is a super read. It is an intense and beautiful love story on a number of different levels. It is an angry anti-war book that lays clear the futility and brutality of war. It is a wonderful character study of so many characters.

It is hard now to single out what is most appealing about the story but I can say that I was really taken with the humour and tenderness of Antonio Corelli and Pelagia's relationship. I loved the character and wisdom of Pelagia's father, the wise doctor who comes across almost as a secular priest. I loved Carlo, the homosexual Italian soldier - it was his love story as much as Pelagia's.

The descriptions of war, especially the brutality of partisan fighting were particularly harrowing and horribly pointless.

It is not a neat love story but a sprawling epic, one that really takes the reader on a long journey.

Highly recommended.
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I don't know how I really feel about this book. I was told I should read it, so I did. At times I was glued, at others I wished I'd never picked it up. I suppose it's a book with something for everyone and thereby every little part cannot also be for everyone.

Love story, war story, island story, coming of age, growing old - it's all in there and sometimes it's very funny. It does meander somewhat and I found myself wishing, more than once, that it would get to the point. It is in many ways like a shorter War and Peace transported to less harsh a location and forward in time. Cephalonia provides a beautiful and historic backdrop which lends power to both happy and tragic events then further highlights the march of time.

It contrasts happy island life with stark realities of war. It illustrates how people are changed by the times in which they live, not always for the better. Commentary on political figures and nations is both amusing and informative.

I very much enjoyed War and Peace but am not so taken with Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Not being a musician perhaps has a lot to do with this. I didn't really need to read in quite so much detail about music where the significance of it was a more important point I felt was left in the shadow of a well-executed tremolo or the timbre of a singing voice.

For reading experience: in parts very good. However, I felt the story ran out of steam and the ending left me feeling no regret that I'd finished it. Not one I'll revisit except, perhaps a chapter here and there.
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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.
DeBernieres is equally adept at contrasting idealistic young love with the institutionalized mindlessness of political passion, the love of the arts and history with the expediencies of political dogma, and one's personal commitments to other individuals with the commitments to ideologies. Realistic at the same time that it is also romantic, the novel conveys the absurdities of politics and places them within the context of real life. The author's exuberant, descriptive style enlivens the present in Greece while also emphasizing the culture of the past, leading the reader to recognize, ultimately, that in all times, wherever one finds wit and humor, one also finds pathos lurking in the background. Mary Whipple
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on 7 July 2004
One of the most riveting books that i have ever encountered, it really does combine an elegant and skilled use of the four most poignant emotions: humour, lust, love and tragedy. De Bernieres is able to knit these all together ensuring the strength of each of these emotions that one feels with each of the characters, creating the surprising effect of enabling the reader to feel mysteriously transported to the middle of the action with the larger than life characters. None of the emotions or the first or third person views cancel each other out as they would in any other book which serves as a testament to the strength of De Bernieres writing skills.
Indeed, I found myself laughing out loud at irregular intervals and then the next minute weeping as if I myself were actually going through the many events of the narrative. This is something to be said as I am not usually a very emotionally charged person.
So why then only 4 stars?
Despite all of the above, I have one criticsm and that is towards the end of the novel, indeed after the war, the book starts to feel as if it were written by a completely different author leaving me bemused and feeling a little empty inside. After the war it begins to move with such an an unstoppable speed as opposed to the original sleepy pace of the beginning and middle, by going through what would have originally have seemed like months into actuall decades and generations, so that you almost become lost. The book starts with so many people and gradually as their fates become entwined with each other, the focus on the number of people, in my view, should narrow down to the two main characters of the whole story right after the war. I thought that there was no need for the ending used as it was a little loose and unnecessary. After so much sadness and misery of the war, why does De Bernieres continue to torture Pelagia, its as if he'd lost interest in her. Yes i know that some may say that way it is a more realistic look of life, but after so much lonely misery, doesn't Pelagia need a break?
I was most impressed by the book's beginning middle and end as i said, more so than the film, yet i still felt that the film's ending had a more fitting and forgiving ending.
He should have cut it short.
Even so, i had to read the whole book, taking four days to read it - may seem long to some, but in the middle of several A level work and heavy A level art homework, its an achievement!
It is the ultimate unputdownable book. Love it or hate it. Simple.
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