#BookReview: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières

What’s it about?

It is 1941 and Captain Antonio Corelli, a young Italian officer, is posted to the Greek island of Cephallonia as part of the occupying forces. At first he is ostracised by the locals, but as a conscientious but far from fanatical soldier, whose main aim is to have a peaceful war, he proves in time to be civilised, humorous – and a consummate musician.

When the local doctor’s daughter’s letters to her fiancé – a member of the underground – go unanswered, the working of the eternal triangle seems inevitable. But can this fragile love survive as a war of bestial savagery gets closer and the lines are drawn between invader and defender?

My thoughts

When I booked my summer holiday to Kefalonia there was one book that I knew I had to read before going.  Well, I didn’t get to read it beforehand so took it with me.  A little cliché maybe, reading the book in its actual setting, but actually it was the best place to read it.  I loved reading it out there, the book is very well written anyway and so I could visualise the setting and places anyway but seeing some of those places was brilliant.

Several readers of this book had said to me prior to starting, “it’s a book of two halves” or “you just have to get past the first 100 pages” and boy were they right.  The first section of the book is so politically heavy it’s no wonder so many people don’t persevere.  In all honesty where it was too heavy, I skim read and I don’t feel it hampered my reading or understanding I just got to the best and more interesting bits a lot quicker.  That’s not to say that the political stuff ends there, but I could take it in small doses.

The scenes of war, the earthquake and the aftermath are so well depicted, just brutal and devastating,  and it’s just brilliant in how it portrays what it was like to live through an occupation.  I did wonder at times though what this book was trying to be, as I said, there’s so much politics, there’s an incredible amount of history which I enjoyed and also there’s the romance between Corelli and Pelagia which although runs through the entire books seems to almost take a back seat until the end – just maybe too many things.  So you can definitely rest assured that you’re not going to be getting a full on romance for the majority of this novel but still worth the read and I’m glad I got through it.

Some holiday snaps of places mentioned in the book:

Earthquake damage in Lixouri (see lines either side of balcony)

Architecture in Argostoli







National Park








Kefalonia is a beautiful island and a must see if you like Greece, and enjoy delving into a place’s history and architecture.

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon

Author links: Facebook | Website

Small print for info
Source: Purchased
No of pages: 534
Publisher: Vintage

2 thoughts on “#BookReview: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières

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