Corelli's Mandolin

Louis de Bernieres, Author Pantheon Books $24 (437p) ISBN 978-0-679-43644-7
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. ( Sept. )
Reviewed on: 08/29/1994
Release date: 09/01/1994
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-679-76397-0
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-375-41720-7
Open Ebook - 343 pages - 978-0-307-51821-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 2 pages - 978-0-679-43793-2
Compact Disc - 978-0-375-41721-4
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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