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Captain Corelli's mandolin
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By Louis de Bernieres

Vintage, Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA, 1998

Paperback, ISBN 0-7493-9754-3

UK 7.99,CAN $ 19.95, 436 pp, Highly Recommended

Louis de Bernieres, winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, Best Book in 1995 -Captain Corelli's Mandolin, is undoubtedly a great master of fiction . CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN is his fourth successful novel.

The story unfolds on the Greek island of Cephallonia in the year of 1936. Dr Iannis, a graphic local character, is the father of Pelagia, the Greek heroine who later on, in 1941, gets involved with the hero of the story, Captain Corelli, a young Italian officer who is sent to Cephallonia by the Italian occupying forces. Due to his post the local people dislike him at first , but, later on ,as they gradually get to know Corelli's talents and civilized manners they start to accept him. But can Corelli's and Pelagias love survive? Can Pelagia, who is already engaged , forget her fiance ? There's the classic love triangle in an idyllic setting. Are the heroes ready for everything?

In this epic love story , Louis de Bernieres touches our hearts from the very first brilliant pages of the book, so that the reader just have to go on reading. The first chapter is exceptionally striking in every aspect. Apart from the vivid setting of the scene, that only a film director could produce in such detail, the author introduces a local vivid character, a doctor, who is involved in a humorous event displaying the full naivety of the local people.

The plot has a tint of history, of geography, of archaeology and of music, and all these elements together comprise a unity that brings about alternate feelings of comedy and tragedy, love and hope, friendship and, yet, cruelty. Above all, Captain Corelli's Mandolin is a love and war novel you cant easily forget after finishing it.

The plot is complex, yet, flowing and vivid and keeps the reader wondering about the final scene till the very last page.

An absorbing novel that is by all means educational as well. Readers can learn about Greece and Italy, the Second World War, customs and culture , and are, at the same time , entertained by the moving plot.

There are also several political characters involved in the plot, such as the Duce and Metaxas, who played an important role during the war. The author draws their personality caricature in such a humorous way that, although far-fetched at times, it shows clearly the futility of politicians and the war.

The Duce says: 'Come here. Now, tell me something; which is my best profile, right or left?... Now, I want you to arrange some attacks against ourselves. Our campaign requires legitimacy for reasons of international policy... WHO LET THAT CAT IN HERE? IS THAT CAT THAT SHAT IN MY HELMET?'

Prime Minister Metaxas says: 'What am I going to do about Mussolini? And What am I going to do about Lulu? ... Lulu , my most beloved daughter.' The author goes on: 'Thank God he had muzzled the press , because every journalist in the land had a pet Lulu story....Couldnt he hear the sniggers and the whispers? That he controlled all of Greece and could not control his own daughter?'

CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN is an excellent , touching , enjoyable novel that caters for all fiction lovers.

Related titles that might interest readers: The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts, Seor Vivo and the Coca Lord, The troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman, which are written by the same author.

Enjoy it!

Reviewed by Liana Metal , 2002


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