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Captain Corelli's Mandolin
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Captain Corelli's Mandolin

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  47,816 ratings  ·  1,686 reviews
Captain Corelli's Mandolin is set 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 i...more
Paperback, 437 pages
Published August 29th 1995 by Vintage (first published 1993)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Pat
Mar 30, 2008 Pat rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: folks who know where to stop reading
This is two books. The first half is without doubt one of the best novels I have ever read. The writing (even in translation) is lyrical; clearly, every word was carefully chosen. The characters are exquisitely drawn with humor and humanity. The plot, centering on the Italian invasion of a remote Greek island in WWII, is a wonderfully engaging love story. It flows amiably along to a logical and satisfying, if not quite "happy," ending.
Unfortuntely, things don't stop there. The second half of...more
Kristen
This is the first time I've ever given a book one star...I actually feel sort of bad doing it. Despite it being well-written, it's pacing was terrible, and I really had to fight to get through it. And then the ending -- oh the ending. After trudging through nearly 600 pages, the ending was about the most unsatisying I have ever read. I literally threw the book against the wall when I was done. And some idiot decided to make a movie out of it, with Nic Cage as Corelli? I can only imagine how awfu...more
Justin Hudnall
Apr 08, 2008 Justin Hudnall rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Folks who aren't too cool to love non-sarcastic books.
De Bernieres style falls between Vonnegut and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and if that doesn't make your head spin and pants feel hot then I don't know what will. It's ridiculously European, in every good sense of the word. It's an epic romance for nihilists and atheists.

The only two horrors come from the realization that the book is now out of print, and that it was already filmed with Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz. Satan's hand is everywhere unseen...
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 08, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010 versions)
Shelves: 1001-core, 501
Stunning. Mesmerizing. Remarkable. Beautiful, beautiful love story. I just scanned the 121 books that I've already read belonging to 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die and there seem to be not too many books that could be considered as predominantly love stories. There is Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice but we all knew about it even before actually reading the book so there was no element of surprise. There is Haruki Murakami's Sputnik Sweetheart but it has fantasy interwoven in the story...more
Wendy
Captain Corelli's Mandolin has, unfortunately, become victim to it's own success. It has become one of those books that anyone who is anyone has read and so nobody now wants to read for fear of being a fashion victim. It even features in Notting Hill, Hugh Grant is reading it at the very end of the film when he and Julia Roberts are sitting in the garden. However, don't let this put you off - it's a brilliant book.

The story, briefly, is a typical love story.During the 2nd World War, the inhabita...more
Esteban del Mal
This is Benito Mussolini, one-time Fascist dictator of Italy and streetlight ornament of the same:

Photobucket

And this is Mussolini talking.

Unless you understand Italian, you have no idea what he's saying. But I bet, even without the historical context, you understand that he's a major asshole. Just look at the body language.

In a way, Louis de Bernières is a lot like that, a little in love with himself. His authorial blurb tells of his many manly adventures. He holds an advanced degree, but is desperate to...more
Velvetink
Running throughout the novel is a Homeric theme which I really liked. Imbued with a mythic weight and a delightful tragicomic lightness, Louis de Bernieres' Corelli's Mandolin bursts with tenderness and wit.

Corelli's Mandolin is not in the least a simple love story. It is a portrait of a fiercely proud and independent little community rebelling in what small ways it can. It is a snapshot of the horrors endured by the men in combat during the Second World War. It is a damning commentary on the g...more
Jessica
This is a meaty, sweeping, witty, and romantic story about one of the more literarily-neglected corners of World War II, the involvement of Italy and Greece and the occupation by the former of the latter.

The action centers on the Greek island of Cephalonia, where the village doctor, Iannis, tends to the ailments of the locals and raises his beautiful and intelligent daughter, Pelagia. Pelagia's bethrothed, Mandras, disappears into the war, and when he returns, Pelagia no longer loves him, so he...more
Shovelmonkey1
May 03, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: hopeless romantics and realists
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: a hopeless romantic
Shelves: read-in-2010
Would you think less of me if I said I loved this book? Will you defriend me and publicly mock me if I said it made me cry a little bit? Anyway as I stand over the shadow of my former self and see my fearsome blue monkey avatar in a crumpled heap like a soggy tear covered kleenex I stand by what I say. Seriously, I'm not an overly emotional person but I loved this. Maybe I loved it because really this story is not a story with a happy ending. This book symbolises the waste of time, the waste of...more
Manny
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maya Panika
When I was living in Cuba, books in English were a precious commodity amongst the expat community. You read them, you passed them on - when you went home, you left them behind for those who would come after you. An American artist - one of many that passed through our lives - left me her doggy, much-read copy of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, exhorting me to read it; it was `incredible, unbelievable, the greatest book she'd ever read'. I had three attempts at it but never made it past page 30. It f...more
Elizabeth
Nov 13, 2006 Elizabeth rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Unlike the movie, this book is a savory treasure. I've read several books by Bernieres and Corelli's Mandolin is one my favorites. The author has one of those bizarre scattered minds that makes following his plots similar to a carnival fun ride. You never know what is going to happen next. Bernieres's also written a crazy book that takes place in the Andes where this tribe takes peyote or some such drug and they start wandering all over the moutains and have wild dreams.

The book begins with a p...more
Matthew Klobucher
This apparently little-known book is a jewel. Written with passion and incandescant humor, the novel recreates WWII-era Greece (and to a certain extent, the rest of Fascist-occupied Europe at that time) with striking beauty. The characters are unforgettable and nearly all likeable; raw pathos, tragedy, comedy, and romance are fused into one gripping narrative that defies classification. It is, if anything, an effective composition of high Romance and a coming-of-age story: two classic stories in...more
Chance Maree

I enjoyed this love story mingled epic war story saga. Curious as to the historical accuracy, I researched, just a scratch of the surface, to find some controversy. From an article in The Guardian, "For many of the older generation, who lived through the events described in de Bernières's book, his story is a slur on the record of the Greek resistance to the Nazis and a mish-mash of distortions and untruths about their island's wartime history."

Nonetheless, I will not retain the events as specif...more
Jason
easily one of the best books i've ever read...
so good, i'm reading it again, even though i just did...
horrifying, yet beautiful in the extreme...
a brutally honest exploration into the notions of allegiance, loyalty, and the twisting emotional complexity of the forces that can either tie us together or force us apart...

in the face of betrayal and broken allegiances, corelli's mandolin, like corelli himself, is a force that continually works to pull and tie people together...

de bernieres has creat...more
Tocotin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
This is one of those books that I didn't actually have much interest in reading; nothing about it appealed to me, and watching the movie a few years ago didn't change that. But for some reason that eludes me now, I picked up a copy from somewhere, and after having it sit on my shelf for another year or so, I finally read it as part of my 2010 TBR Challenge. And I must say, as mentally exerting as it can be at times, it was well worth it.

Set on the picturesque Greek island of Cephallonia during W...more
Bethany
I adored this book. I fell in love with all the words and the beautiful way they all fit together.

But, I do need to say, all the people that I recommended the book to, and the people that I know read the book, did not feel at all the same way.

In addition, the movie was all wrong.


Here is what I wrote about the book when I first read it:

An intelligent, heart pounding, gut wrenching book about a small island in Greece in World War 2. The island is occupied by the fascist Italians and some of Hitler...more
Martha
"Corelli's Mandolin" is, like "The English Patient", a literate historical romance. It also manages to be a highbrow page-turner, with equal doses of wit and pathos to go with the romance.
Suzanne
The setting is WWII Greece – the island of Cephalonia to be exact – and the Italians are an occupying force. The story evolves as the young Captain Antonio Corelli falls in love with the daughter of the local doctor. At first resistant, Pelagia eventually succumbs to Correli’s charms, and they make plans to marry when the war is over. The tale that follows is a narrative of the war and it’s effects on the people of Cephalonia and the young couple.

I enjoyed De Berniere’s novel Birds Without Wings...more
Stephen Gallup
The author may have tried to accomplish too much with this story. Like Shakespeare and Melville, he includes passages that could practically stand alone as good advice on living or doing something. There are some high-level summaries of historical developments that perhaps do not belong here, at least in that format. There is a certain amount of technical detail about music that left me behind. He could have just deleted the early chapter on Mussolini. And if I wanted to be picky (I don't) I cou...more
Judy
I believe this book will be one of my favorite reads of 2013. Even though I felt that the story waned the last 25% or so of the book, I found it to be an excellent read.

The book gives the perspective of World War II from the Greek Island of Cephallonia. The characters are vivid, lively and entertaining. The light humor keeps the story moving all the while educating the reader about Cephallonian culture.

I was engaged from the first chapter when Dr. Iannis removes a petrified pea from old man Sta...more
Steve
HEADLINE: An unforgivably long and tedious review of the book wherein is set out my modest proposal for an alternate ending.





Let me go out on a limb and say that this book should be included in the list of great novels that tell a fine love story against a backdrop of war. I'm thinking of A Farewell to Arms for example, though not War and Peace. It reminded me of The English Patient, which I admired so much for its richness of description of the sensual--sights, sounds, touches, and, not the leas...more
Laura
Let me just say that historical fiction is my favorite genre and Louis de Bernieres is my favorite author among historical fiction...so far. This was an excellent insight into the effects of war on a community, but focused on the soldiers. With a long-standing but complicated romance on the side it appeals to a wide audience. For me, the most memorable scene was the firing range when the shooters didn't want to shoot and one of those being fired upon falls, but is not shot, but lays among the de...more
Brenda Cregor
All is well that ends well.

In my mind, this novel did not end well.

There were definitely segments of this novel which warranted 5 stars: Carlos's letters and history, the pamphlet on Mussolini, his short but astute observation on the flaws of symmetry ( which I was especially interested in, being an ardent lover of balance), and La Scala's rehearsals (how I laughed out loud!).

In addition, de Bernieres had that ability to make me hate characters, that is a literary gift.

His descriptions of the wa...more
Suzanne
This was a very unique story both in style and language. There was a quirky type of wordiness and humor that was slowly seductive if the reader could be receptive and willing to go for the ride.
The story begins in 1940 in Ceppalonia Greece, a small island described by Dr. Iannis as being full of magic and light. The first few chapters are written in the first person and are a kind of preamble to the plot. The viewpoints are Italian and Greek and are written from the point of view of an Italia...more
Katherine
First half of this book is astounding...well written, beautiful character development. The story is of the occupation of the Greek island of Cephalonia during WWII by the Italan's and interwoven through is a love story between an italian soldier and the town beauty. Unfortunately in the second half the book falls apart. Although I wouldn't give it 5 stars it is still a lovely read with moments that make you stop and relish in the writing.

Below is a quote from the book that was used in my Weddin...more
Stacie
4.5 stars really.

Thank goodness I was able to read this without imagining Penelope Cruz and Nicholas Cage as the characters (it helps that I never saw the movie). Penelope as a Greek beauty just doesn't work for me.

I really enjoyed this book...I loved that it was more than a love story between a man and a woman, but also between father and daughter, man/woman and country and between friends and honor.

I am a sucker for historical writing...I loved that de Bernieres addressed the emotionality that...more
Maggie
Mar 25, 2009 Maggie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
I just can't put into words how I felt about this book. Other than I loved it. There are no comparisons I can make, no adjectives that do it justice. I literally wept with grief and with joy while reading this book. My husband officially thinks I have lost my mind. He may be right. What he doesn't know is that Corelli reminded me so much of him. Like Antonio, Elliot won me with humor; and against my "better judgement." And like Pelagia, once won, I could never love another. Not even Gerard Butle...more
Coco
I still feel terrible that I didn't like this book. Many people love it and I feel I missed something. I picked it up the first time and couldn't make it past the first few chapters. The second time, I made myself finish because it was for book club. Some members of the group loved it, but I just didn't. Parts were beautifully written and I enjoyed the historical aspects, but the ending was awful, in my opinion, and the story often tedious. Maybe just one star?
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Spoilers! Can anyone give a different perspective on the ending? 2 22 Oct 01, 2014 07:20PM  
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Novelist Louis de Bernières was born in London in 1954. He joined the army at 18 but left after spending four months at Sandhurst. After graduating from the Victoria University of Manchester, he took a postgraduate certificate in Education at Leicester Polytechnic and obtained his MA at the University of London.

Before writing full-time, he held many varied jobs including landscape gardener, motor...more
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“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don't blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being "in love", which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.” 3106 likes
“Women only nag when they feel unappreciated.” 1259 likes
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