Corelli's mandolin

Front Cover
Pantheon Books, Sep 1, 1994 - Fiction - 437 pages
17 Reviews
The Greek island of Cephallonia - peaceful, remote, famed for its beauty, its light, its mythic history - and only just beginning to enter the twentieth century when the tide of World War II rolls onto its shores. This is the setting for Louis de Bernieres's lyrical, heartbreaking, and hilarious chronicle of the days and nights of the island's inhabitants over fifty tumultuous years. "It was an island filled with gods," writes Dr. Iannis, Cephallonia's healer and fledgling historian. And though the people who fill the island in 1940 may be less divine than their Olympian forebears, they are nonetheless divinely human, and none more so than the doctor's daughter, Pelagia. Willful, proud, independent, and beautiful, Pelagia finds herself between two men: Mandras, a handsome young fisherman, besotted with love for her but determined to permanently secure her love (and a dowry from her father) by finding "something to get to grips with" when he joins the resistance; and Captain Corelli, a charming, mandolin-playing, exceedingly reluctant officer of the Italian garrison that establishes the Axis presence on the island. Corelli is thought slightly mad in his passion for music and the gentleness of his troops' "occupation" of Cephallonia. Yet his madness quickly begins to make life seem more "various, rich, and strange" for everyone who encounters him - especially, and most confusingly, for Pelagia... But with the arrival of the Germans and then of the Communists, life on the island becomes more chaotic and barbaric, more certainly a part of the process by which "history repeats itself, first as tragedy, and then again as tragedy." Pelagia's life, once rife with possibility, an idyll of time, becomes a long search for something fine and lasting amid loss and separation, deprivation and fear. Her story of love found and changed and misplaced, and the story of the life she shares with the people of Cephallonia - a life permanently altered by the war and its brutal aftermath, by the vagaries of nature, time, and "progress" - add up to an epic tale of tenderness and tenacity in an age of barbarism. Corelli's Mandolin is a novel of infinite humanity and prodigious imagination, of dazzling humor and farce. It is the work of a brilliantly gifted writer.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Review: Captain Corelli's Mandolin

User Review  - Merflerher - Goodreads

I've never understood the hype about this book. Three times I've tried to read it - I actually mangaed to get three-quarters of the way through it last time, but gave up in disgust. It's so SLOW ... Read full review

Review: Captain Corelli's Mandolin

User Review  - Maera - Goodreads

I like the idea and even most of the characters for this story (though a few of them are caricatures), but the author was very long-winded. While it's good for the author to be intimately familiar ... Read full review

All 17 reviews »


Dr Iannis Commences his History and is Frustrated
The Duce
The Strongman

71 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

About the author (1994)

Louis de Bernieres is the bestselling author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize Best Book in 1995. His most recent novel is Birds Without Wings.

Bibliographic information