Music is good. War is bad. Love is timeless. These are the thoughts I am left with upon completion of de Berniers'Corelli's Mandolin
I am not even sure where to start in a review of this novel. We are given the story of the Greek island of Cephellonia during and following World War II. Pelagia, lives an easy life in a picturesque village on the island. The daughter of the village doctor, she is unusually educated for a girl in those times and engaged to a handsome fisherman. And then the war. Her fisherman leaves to fight and comes back broken before once again leaving. The Italians bring war to Greece, followed by the Germans. On the heals of victory is occupation and Pelagia and her father find themselves host to a charming musician who just happens to be a captain in the Italian army. His presence in their life changes everything, and their tragic love story is the major theme through the rest of the book.
Yet Corelli's mandolin is more than a love story. Interwoven throughout is the story of doomed Italian soldier, Carlo, the stories of several of the village inhabitants, a German soldier, Mussolini, the Greek Prime Minister, and even a goatherder. It is also a history lesson and treatise on music and culture. As much as I thrilled in the beautiful romance of Pelagia and Corelli, I enjoyed each of the additional threads equally. They completed the story. Life is never about just one great love. It is everything else happening around the couple that allowed that love to blossom. These additional stories complimented and completed the story of Corelli and Pelagia.
Louis de Bernieres is obviously a master of the written word. He weaved all of the stories in and out of each other expertly. He made me care about each of the characters and he captured their individual voices perfectly. Despite the rapid changes in perspective and voice, it was never difficult to determine who was speaking. Unfortunately, this also made it easy for me to put the book down and not pick it up again for days at a time. Because the chapters were short, I was able to finish one before putting the book down and didn't feel immediately compelled to pick it back up to find out what happens next. This is my only quibble with the book however, and admittedly it is a minor one. I enjoyed every moment of this book and will definitely be seeking out others by de Bernieres.