Author: Louis de Bernieres
Title: Corelli’s Mandolin
Description: This book was made into the movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, so it’s sometimes sold under that title as well. The setting is WWII Greece; although Greece is hoping for their English allies to step in, they are occupied by the Italians, and later, the Nazis. An Italian regiment is stationed in Cephallonia; its captain is quartered at the home of the village doctor and his daughter, Pelagia. Captain Corelli is a musician, not a soldier, and he and Pelagia fall in love, but the forces of history conspire to keep them apart.
Review source: This book is on several “best book” lists that I’m reading through.
Plot: This is one of those sweeping historical novels where the action ranges from the global (Mussolini is a character) to the very local in an attempt to show how worldwide events affected people in one spot at one point in time.
Characters: Pelagia, the doctor’s daughter, has two suitors, one from her village before the war, and of course, Captain Corelli. She would also like to leave her small village and become a doctor herself, but that is unheard of in 1930’s Greece. Berniers has populated the book with major and secondary characters who bring history to life.
Writing style: Berniers is known for magical realism, and while this book doesn’t have too much of that (I’d not classify it in that genre), it does have the tone—which I’d describe as one of acceptance of whatever comes about.
Audience: Anyone who enjoys historical or literary fiction should enjoy this book.
Wrap-up: The book was sad on multiple levels, not the least of which was the recognition that a certain simple way of life was forever lost. I’m not necessarily out to be sad when I read, so I didn’t give the book as many stars as it probably deserves, but this is my review, so 3/5*.