Captain Corelli's Mandolin

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Captain Corelli's Mandolin
by Louis de Bernières

This book, part war tale, part love story, takes place on the island of Kefalonia during the Italian and German occupation of World War II. The main characters are Antonio Corelli, an Italian captain, and the Greek woman he fall for, Pelagia, the daughter of the local physician, Dr. Iannis.

The plot is a bit slow-going a first and it takes awhile to get into it. Sometimes the point of view is confusing. It bounces between so many different characters and stories. If you can hang in there and get past the beginning though, it’s a really good read. I loved the characters and their interaction. Corelli is wonderfully light for a soldier and Pelagia is stubborn and strong. They bring out the best in each other. At times their scenes are playful and sweet, then a moment later the tragedy of war forces them to be serious.

This book gives an excellent account of the horrors of war on both the soldiers and the towns people left behind. It was that combination that made the story powerful. Many books deal with one aspect (like All Quiet on the Western Front showing the effect on soldiers), but I haven’t read one that’s shown both.

I loved the variety of characters and the anecdotal stories about life in the village. I know these very things can be distracting for some people, but to me they made the story richer. I cared about the people and what happened to them because of the war. My main complaint about the book, and the reason I didn’t give it a high rating, is the ending.


We are made to care so deeply for these characters, then we are suppose to believe that Corelli didn’t try to figure out where Pelagia got her baby? I definitely don’t need a perfectly happy ending, but this seemed like a serious stretch. Either he cared enough to find out if she had really moved on with another man or he didn’t care enough to visit her every year. You can’t have it both ways. Reuniting them after 50 years and making them both realize all that they had missed in those decades just seemed cruel.


I did really enjoy this book and with a different ending I think I would have loved it.


Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

This is still on my Top-10 of All Time. I see what you mean about the ending but I was willing to suspend my disbelief. It reminded me of "Love in Times of Cholera"

Anne said...

I have been wanting to read this book for a long time but haven't gotten around to it. Thanks for the great review, it made me want to read it ASAP!

Jessica said...

ah this is on my TBR list. alot of other people have said how difficult it is on places which has put me off.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Alexandra - I haven't read that one yet, but it makes me wonder if I'll like the ending of that.

Anne - Enjoy!

Jessica - Give yourself sometime to get into it. I would say it's definitely worth reading, because the characters are great.

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

A goodreads "friend" of mine just posted her review raving about this and how she was so glad she hadn't seen the movie with Nicholas Cage...that it would have ruined the book for her. I've always blown this book off for that very reason -- but I think I need to give it a chance.

BookQuoter said...

This book grew on me. And it is really because of the captain. I really like his character, and his sense of humor.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Melissa - I blew this one off for a long time because of that. Definitely ignore the film and grab the book.

BookQuoter - I loved both the Captain and the Doctor. They were both great characters.