Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Tale of Love Amidst a Violent Struggle

There's nothing more fitting as a first post than a feature on my favorite book, Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

This novel by Louis de Bernières is set in the pre-WWII era. It tells of the story of a community in the small Greek island of Cephalonia. It centers on the life of a Pelgaia Iannis, a fiercely independent and loving daughter of a well-loved village doctor, and the apple of the eye of Mandras, a Cephalonian fisherman of simple means.

Despite the idyllic and oftentimes funny going-ons in this small island, there was a sudden tension in the when the Italian forces found their way to their remote village, getting ready to heighten their forces for the upcoming war.

Captain Antonio Corelli is the officer-in-charge of the Italian regiment that settled in the heart of Cephalonia. Polite and cultured Antonio Corelli could not understand the vehemence of the villagers. The tension runs thick as Greek and Italian cultures clash and the people of Cephalonia treat the soldiers with as much disdain as they could muster.

Despite his military position, Corelli is a musician at heart and an extremely talented mandolin player who loves nothing more than to strum his instrument to his heart's desire. Captain Corelli crosses path with the lovely Pelgaia, as he lives in the village doctor's house by forced means. And despite the difficulties and trials between them, Pelgaia and Corelli fall in love.

Their affair lasted for a lifetime, struggling against a great world war and complicated their union because of their allegiances to their own countries. The war ravages the entire world, and especially the small whimsical village of Cephalonia. Corelli and Pelgaia's love are tested by great and incessant life-shattering events.

It is history at a level that readers will be able to understand. Captain Corelli's Mandolin simply unearths lives and stories on different levels, as it is a story of love and a brutal tale of war at the same time.

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