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Interesting,
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Corelli's Mandolin: A Novel
by Louis de Bernieres

Published: 2012-10-17
Kindle Edition : 437 pages
9 members reading this now
12 clubs reading this now
10 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 1 of 1 members
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 ...
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Introduction

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 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

Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

Pellagia and the Doctor have several discussions about the meaning of love. How does her view change throughout the book? Why?
Why does Corelli leave Antonia behind? Pellagia? WHat do each of the choices mean to him?
WHat is your reaction to the end of the book. Did you find it believable?
by Barry1776 (see profile) 05/11/11

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Book Club Recommendations

An Interesting Followup
by Barry1776 (see profile) 05/11/11
When we finished reading and discussing the book, we set aside one meeting time to watch the film, which starred Penelope Cruz, Nicolas Cage and John Hurt. This led to an interesting discussion of how the film differed from the pictures we had created in our minds for the book and how filmmakers must edit the plots of a novel to fit their needs.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "A Serious Novel For Serious Readers"by Barry1776 (see profile) 05/11/11

Many of our members found the opening chapters of the book to be quite slow, but then they were slowly, inexorably drawn into the lives of Pellagia, the Doctor, and Corelli, as well as the n... (read more)

 
  "3.5/5 rated 1-5 by 4 members"by mindyhayes (see profile) 01/26/09

 
  "Reminds me of "Middlesex"..."by melcookie (see profile) 02/21/07

It took me until page 131 to really get drawn into the characters but once that happened, I was hooked. Although for me his style of writing takes more concentration, I really appreciate how creatively... (read more)

 
  "Historical epic"by doloresvoorhees2000 (see profile) 02/21/07

I really liked de Bernieres style. He is quite "dense", and I think it would be a good book to read with an atlas and a dictionary in hand. But I enjoyed it without the aids. Several of o... (read more)

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