Captain Correlli's Mandolin, by Louis de Bernières

Love story set on the Greek island of Cephalonia in WW2. Corelli is an Italian soldier, stationed on the island, who falls for Pelagia, the daughter of a local physician.

The writing in this was pretty impressive - in a sort of nonchalant way. It felt at times a little bit rambling and as if some of the sections were short stories or exercises that might have been languishing in the author's workbooks, drafted in to give extra atmosphere to the main plot. But whether or not that's how it was written, the whole thing did hold together well, and felt very rich and rewarding.

One example of the "exercise" I remember was a very impressive second (I think) chapter, which had an episode focusing on Mussolini (I assume) berating his generals. Other than being referred to by other characters later on, there was no follow up to this, but it.

I did have a bit of trouble to start with because many of the sections started by naming the character they were focusing on. And because all of the characters had foreign names, it exacerbated the normal problem of not knowing which characters to pay attention to, because I couldn't remember which of their names had headed previous chapters. But the "short story"-ness of it meant that they all slipped down easily.

The thing which made the biggest impression on me was the German massacre of the Italian troops in 1943 - I don't think I'd heard of this before and it was pretty shocking. I had to go to Wikipedia to read more, and it seems that the picture painted in the book (which is fairly damning to the Germans) is an accurate one.

This was a very enjoyable read, and I'll read more by the author.

Completed : 25-Nov-2011 (audiobook)

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