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Corelli's Mandolin: A Novel (Vintage International) [Kindle Edition]

Louis De Bernieres
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (448 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.96 (37%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Extravagant, inventive, emotionally sweeping, Corelli's Mandolin is the story of a timeless place that one day wakes up to find itself in the jaws of history.  The place is the Greek island of Cephallonia, where gods once dabbled in the affairs of men and the local saint periodically rises from his sarcophagus to cure the mad.  Then the tide of World War II rolls onto the island's shores in the form of the conquering Italian army.

Caught in the occupation are Pelagia, a willful, beautiful young woman, and the two suitors vying for her love:  Mandras, a gentle fisherman turned ruthless guerilla, and the charming, mandolin-playing Captain Corelli, a reluctant officer of the Italian garrison on the island.  Rich with loyalties and betrayals, and set against a landscape where the factual blends seamlessly with the fantastic, Corelli's Mandolin is a passionate novel as rich in ideas as it is genuinely moving.


From the Trade Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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. 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. --Alix Wilber

From Publishers Weekly

Heartbreaking, beautiful and deeply moving--if not always entirely believable--de Bernieres's extraordinary novel is based on a historic episode: the Nazis' occupation of the sleepy Greek island of Cephallonia and their slaughter of thousands of occupying Italian troops who turned against fascism in solidarity with the native Greeks. The novel's central love story, pairing willful Greek beauty Pelagia and jesting Italian captain Antonio Corelli, a mandolin player, reluctant soldier and despiser of Mussolini, veers toward sentimentality until their idyll is shattered by the German invasion. Pelagia's immature fiance, Greek fisherman Mandras, becomes a fanatical Communist, commits atrocities and later returns from battle to beat Pelagia, who shoots him. By this time, Corelli--saved from a Nazi firing squad by his driver, Carlo, a closet homosexual who unrequitedly loves him--has left to fight the Germans. Pelagia narrowly survives, but her father, an erudite widowed doctor, is killed by Greek Communists. De Bernieres ( The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts ) follows the fortunes of his resilient heroine and the war orphan she adopts through 1933, when we learn that Corelli, presumed dead, has absented himself for decades due to a calamitous misunderstanding. Swinging between antic ribaldry and criminal horror, between corrosive satire and infinite sorrow, this soaring novel glows with a wise humanity that is rare in contemporary fiction.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1462 KB
  • Print Length: 449 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B001NDPVC0
  • Publisher: Vintage (October 17, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004EPZ6DS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,940 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
109 of 110 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
It wasn't because it was raining, it wasn't that I had nothing else to do, it wasn't because I had just split up with a boyfriend, my TV was working, and yet I sat in for the whole of this weekend in absolute emotional turmoil. All because of Captain Corelli's Mandolin. The book takes you through the bumpy ride of a small island's history. Together with the characters we go through war from all angles, occupation, earthquakes and most traumatically losing loved ones. Depressing as that may sound to some of you, Bernières is one of only a handful of authors who has the gifted touch of making his readers laugh out loud. I often found myself having to read through tear filled eyes, only to be laughing at the same time because Bernières has seen fit to enhance heart rendering stories with some true life observations (I couldn't possibly give an example as it might spoil the book- just trust me, it's funny). It is a book that deals with every type of love; between man and country, father and daughter, man and woman, pine marten and mice. It is so easy to identify with that I'm sure I was blushing, as if he had read my thoughts. It truely is a compelling read, so full of little gems that you might want to keep pen and paper to hand, as well as some tissues for the snivelly bits. The structure of the book is such that it may take a little while to get used to ( lots of characters take a chapter each and we eavesdrop in on their mind workings.). But after a short while it comes together and as a reader I feel we are left with the perfect situation- no, one omniscient narrator, yet the ability to see the entire picture. It's a fabulous read. Make sure you've got nothing planned for the weekend!
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140 of 149 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intellectually heady love story/anti-war novel December 12, 1999
Format:Paperback
"Corelli's Mandolin" came highly recommended by two friends whose sophisticated taste in fiction I trust. I won't comment on the plot, as the synopses above do that very well. Mr. de Bernieres is an exceptional prose stylist, who writes beautiful, elegant sentences, provides descriptions of such clarity as to make your inner eye need sunglasses, and has a twisted comic sense that reminds me of Mark Helprin and John Irving. The first 100 pages are slow going, yet still very involving, as you are introduced to the cast of characters, the island of Cephallonia, and the events leading up to the Italian occupation of the island. The pace picks up once Captain Corelli arrives on the scene and begins his beguiling seduction of Pelagia. But I must caution potential readers: this novel is dense with information, multiple narrative viewpoints, satire, history, an odd assortment of characters, and the narrator's discursive approach. I did not find this book to be a "breezy" or fast read. This is not a plot-driven novel or a page-turner by any means. If you like similar books and think the premise sounds interesting, then prepare to settle in for a leisurely, occasionally mind-bending read. Personally, I think that Mark Helprin's "A Soldier of the Great War" is a far more successful attempt at the same type of novel. Helprin is a brilliant writer with a huge intellect who plots like a madman, writes inspired and wickedly funny dialogue, and paints word pictures that will be indelibly etched in your mind. "Soldier" is probably my favorite book of the 1990's. "Corelli's Mandolin" is excellent but it's not truly a classic. Nevertheless, I await de Bernieres' next book with anticipation.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most memorable books I've read March 17, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
On the island, I have heard that Louis desBernieres only actually spent a few days here doing research. I found this so hard to believe.
Through his words and the pictures he paints in the mind, you are transported to this most wonderful place. I felt Mandras' and Corelli's pain as they endured horrific events as the war unfolds. I dislike war novels of any kind, but this work brings the human element into play in a way that it would be as though your brother or a friend were at war -- you would hang on every word for information.
The love story is brilliant -- until the very end. The ending is too quickly "tacked on" and detracts significantly from the excellent quality of the writing. It is also one of those "too good to be true" endings. However, put this aside and create your own ending, because the rest of the work -- the language, the plot, characterizations, are so masterfully crafted that my disappointment at the ending was tempered by the memories of these great characters.
Louis desBernieres created a moving, wonderful book out of an obscure topic with regard to WWII, very few people out there are aware of the war atrocities committed in Greece.
I am most worried that once the film is released, that our family's island paradise will be inundated with tourists! Cephallonia is truly one of the most unusually different, most hauntingly beautiful and least visited Greek islands. I would love it if it were always so, but it is inevitable that because of this book, there will be a great interest garnered in visiting. If you do manage to make it over here, enjoy -- but respect the islanders and the environment, please (especially the beaches, which are unparalleled in Greece)!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great historical fiction about WW II
An outstanding read- quickly delivered!
Published 7 days ago by S. H.
4.0 out of 5 stars Stories about World War II are especially interesting to me ...
Stories about World War II are especially interesting to me. This one about some of the people on the Greek Island of
Cephallonia was a different take on that war and a... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Patricia Wilkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A good novel
Published 20 days ago by JLB
5.0 out of 5 stars Great combo of Greek history (ancient &modern)
Great combo of Greek history (ancient &modern), esp the horrors of WW II, love story, many wonderful characters too! Plus a bit about playing mandolin. Loved it!!
Published 22 days ago by A. Claudia Eads, MD
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable way to improve your background knowledge of a recebt era...
This is a very readable (page turner) novel that introduces a part of World War II Mediterranean history that most of us Yanks are oblivious of. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Island Boy
5.0 out of 5 stars a masterful work of fiction
much loved and enjoyed many many times. i cannot say how, since i have never been to Greece but i know the temperature of the shade on the island in the book. it is magic.
Published 2 months ago by will crow
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful
Beautiful language, rich characters, full gamut of emotions. Gruesome war experience to simple pleasures to passion and devotion. Funny, tragic and inspiring
Published 2 months ago by mary ellen imlau
4.0 out of 5 stars Ending was a letdown
Europe is in the grip of WWII, and the small Greek village of Cephallonia hasn't been spared the drama. Read more
Published 2 months ago by A. Luciano
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 ½ stars
I would give this an unqualified 5 stars were it not for the unfocused opening chapters for the first time reader. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Denis Meals
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful wtory laid on a Greek island in the Adriatic.
Much better than the film that was made--really a pleasure to read and to savour the captivating, in many ways, tragic story.
Published 3 months ago by G. M. Seely
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More About the Author

Louis de Bernieres was awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book Eurasia Region in 1991 and 1992, and for Best Book in 1995. He was selected by Granta as one of the twenty Best of Young British Novelists in 1993, and lives in Norfolk, East Anglia.

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