Friday, January 29, 2010

'Captain Corelli's Mandolin'- Review

Vintage Fiction

ISBN: 0-7493-9754-3

Length: 533 Pages

Opening Line:
'Dr. Iannis had enjoyed a satisfactory day in which none of his patients had died or got any worse.'


Firstly, I must apologise for the lack of posts on this blog. I hadn't forgotten that it existed, quite the contrary. However it has taken me this long to get through the novel 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin'......and I'm afraid to say that I failed.

I hate unfinished books. No matter how boring or difficult a book is I try and finish it, because I hate the idea that I have left words and characters undiscovered. On rare occasions however, I have to admit defeat and this is one of them.

I had previously bought Louis de Bernieres' novel 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' last summer, after enjoying the film starring Penelope Cruz and Nicholas Cage (I could even forgive his appalling accent). Whether that instilled an unbiased opinion about the film being better than the book I don't know, maybe that discussion should be saved for a future blog post.

One thing I do know though, is that reading the book seemed very unfamiliar, even though I was aware of the plot. One of the reasons that I didn't enjoy the book, was the way in which it switched and changed between characters and even styles of writing so that I didn't know what was going on. I would read a section of the book, for example about the relationship between the doctor's daughter Pelagia and her fiance Mandras and then without explanation, it would cut to a strand of narrative about an Italian soldier, hiding his homosexuality. You could argue that if I had stuck with the book until the end, I may have figured out how the different strands of narrative were connected with each other. I just felt that the story wasn't strong enough to keep my interest for that long.

As for the style of writing, I felt that Louis de Bernieres couldn't keep to one particular style, because he was in some way showing off to the reader that he could do more than one. I think though that it is important for a writer to stick to a set style, so that the reader knows where they are in the story and where it is going and that is where the flaw partly laid during the story. Also his choice of vocabulary wasn't really used effectively in my opinion. I got the feeling that he was using 'fancy' words just because he could, not because they were needed.

There were glimmers of hope for the book however, which made me attempt to read the book 3 times before I finally gave up. For example, scenes near the beginning book set in the village, where Dr Iannis cures a local villager Stamatis of his seemingly incurable deafness by pulling out a dried up pea from his ear, only to be told to put it back because he can hear his wife's constant nagging, projected warmth and humour. However, it shifted and changed so much, that couldn't really get into the book at all.

So unfortunately 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' is going onto my very small pile of unfinished books, I'm just hoping that the next book will be better!

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