"Captain Corelli's Mandolin" by Louis de Bernieres (1994)
"'And another thing. Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you need to make a decision.'"
Louis de Bernieres is a British novelist. He has written several other novels, though none have approached the popularity of Captain Corelli's Mandolin. He counts Gabriel Marcia Marquez as a big influence, and this influence is fairly obvious in Bernieres' most famous work.
In Captain Corelli's Mandolin, an Italian officer arrives on the Greek island of Cephallonia during World War II. A romance quickly develops between this officer and a local Greek girl, with both the war and village life forming a backdrop to both their changing relationship and the plans they try to make.
I haven't seen the movie, but I have no doubt that the book is much better. It would be virtually impossible to pack so much historical detail into a movie, and without such detail the narrative would probably come across as very one-dimensional and uninteresting. I get why Hollywood thought it proper fodder for their usual cast of stars, but only a more impressionistic, less mainstream sort of film would have adequately captured the historical nuance present in the book.
And it is a good book, if not without a huge plot hole near the end. I don't want to spoil the ending for you - because this novel is indeed worth reading - but two of the characters' failure to stay in contact following Italy's defeat is completely implausible, given the fact that one of them was writing a book which involved correspondence with scholars all over the world, and that the other becomes a celebrated person, whose fame would have certainly reached back to the island of Cephallonia. That one would have remained oblivious to the other's existence, while the other would have proceeded from an instance of mistaken identity, is really hard - if not impossible - to swallow.
Even so the book ends well, and you'd need a heart of stone not to be a little touched by the way things turn out. Captain Corelli's Mandolin is a solid effort and an absorbing read.
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