Tocotin's Reviews > Captain Corelli's Mandolin

Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
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Oct 21, 10

bookshelves: historical-fiction, my-own-books, used-books, waste-of-time, contemporary-literature
Read from October 16 to 21, 2010

** spoiler alert ** Strange... I heard mostly good things about this book, but it's quite boring so far. The author is apparently in love with his style, which is getting tedious. The longer the words, the better (he loves the word "malodorous" for some reason).

The images and characters are rather stereotypical: of course the Greek island is beautiful and sunny, the people picturesque and stupid in this special "ethnic", endearing way; when he's describing a group of inmates of the local lunatic asylum, of course one of them must be an exhibitionist; the village must have a freethinking doctor, a conservative and a communist... oh well.

All right, I've finished. Frankly, I'm disappointed. I assumed the book was funny, touching and a little crazy, and it turned out to be pompous, cliched and unoriginal and OMG BORING! I couldn't care for a single character (not even Psipsina the pine marten), I hated them all, I couldn't believe either in their motivations or in their feelings. They were completely cardboard, the lot of them: the villagers, the beautiful Pelagia, the good and wise doctor methodically pissing on her herbs, the good Italians, the goofy and good British, the ugly and hideous communists, the inhuman Germans, the crazy Orthodox priest, the naughty little child... oh and the good and noble homosexual for whom I had such high hopes.

What was the point of this book? The love story? It was shallow. The cruelty of history? It was exploited. The beauty of Greece? It was never shown. The characters were coming alive at one moment, and turning into puppets the next. Their complexities weren't even touched, as if the author backed off in fear and resolved to use them only in the most hamfisted ways. Mandras's mother Drosoula became Pelagia's unexpected ally, fine - then she cursed her long-lost son with a light heart and never mentioned him again? Mandras became a cruel, hardened, heartless communist bandit, fine - and then killed himself because he couldn't rape his fiancee? Carlo loved Francesco dearly and went almost mad at his death, fine - then he just told us he loved Corelli as well and shut his mouth forever, never showed his love, let the readers forget, then suddenly remember it in the crucial moment?

And the scatological, rank humor... oh... yeah a cat shat in Mussolini's hat, sorry helmet, oh very funny. Oh and the Cyrillic mentioned over and over again, olives eaten raw, a pea staying in an ear for decades... What a dishonest, torturous book. I'm sorry. I really wanted to like it...
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Reading Progress

10/16/2010 page 136
25.0% "All right, the Italians haven't landed yet..."
10/19/2010 page 310
71.0% "Oh, they have Cyrillic in Greece! And you can eat a fresh olive straight from the tree! Just shoot me now."

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