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Captain Corelli's Mandolin Paperback – 5 Apr 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 488 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (5 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099422042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099422044
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 11 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (488 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,068,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

"A wonderful, hypnotic novel of fabulous scope and tremendous iridescent charm." -Joseph Heller "Captain Corelli's Mandolin is an emotional, funny, stunning novel which swings with wide smoothness between joy and bleakness, personal lives and history...it's lyrical and angry, satirical and earnest." -"Observer "Louis de Bernieres 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." -A.S. Byatt

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 6 Jan. 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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a re-read for me, and though I didn't perhaps enjoy it second time around quite as much, it is nevertheless a good read which stands the test of time. Louis de Bernieres presents the story of a doomed love that endures many decades, and though you have to run with some fairly unlikely behaviour in order to push this storyline to its ultimate conclusion I defy any reader not to feel a warm glow at the end. The love story though is perhaps the least of it. What de Berniers captures well is the beauty of Greece and her people - their pride, their courage, their warmth and kindness and generosity - even today the poorest of the poor will share their food with a total stranger.

"There would be time enough to wake, to eat bread sprinkled with oregano, count his flock, and chivvy them to a place of pasture. His life was timeless, he might have been one of his own forebears, and his goats too would do as Cephallonian goats had always done; they would sleep at noon, concealed from the sun on the vertiginous northern slopes of cliffs, and in the evening their plangent bells might be heard even in Ithaca, carrying across the silent air and causing distant villagers to look up, wondering which herd was passing close".

I promise you, there are parts of Greece, even today, where life is still like this - though it's true there are a lot more pick-up trucks around -where the hub of the village is the tiny kafenion, where the menfolk (and it is menfolk) gather and nurse a coffee with a glass of water for hours, often silent, sometimes 'chewing the cud', always watching - there's not much that goes on in a traditional Greek village that they miss!! And de Bernieres captures this with great warmth and love. He's perhaps a little self-conciously erudite at times, but I can forgive him much for transporting me to a Greece I know well and love more.

It is also oceans - light years - incomparably better than the movie.
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