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 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 go unanswered, the working of the eternal triangle seems inevitable. But can this fragile love survive as the war gets closer and the lines are drawn between invader and defender?
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- Lindi Still
I've read a few of de Bernieres earlier books and really enjoyed them, particularly the dreamily evocative language he uses to draw life into new (and often fictional) regions, with powerfully crafted characters and a real sense of authority. Here, LDB proves his mastery again, in a tale full of rich and vibrant people and places, mixed with the harsh conditions and dreadful atrocities of wartime Greece.
A sign of a compelling experience is when you feel your emotions rising in various scenes, which I especially found with Weber, Carlo and Mandras (on more than one occasion). When you unwittingly buy into a story to the extent that you're actively urging someone to do something, you know you've found a winning story.
The only reason I fell short of the maximum 5 stars was that I was not really convinced by the events of the latter stages, which I found a little weak in light of everything the characters had been through. Doubtlessly, others may not feel the same. I have not seen the film to know if it followed the same path.
Even so, I did really enjoy the whole book. I think LDB is a very under-rated author and I hope we get to take on more of his work.