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Corelli's Mandolin:
A Novel
by Louis de Berniers

In the early days of the Second World War, before Benito Mussolini invaded Greece, Dr. Iannis practices medicine on the island of Cephalonia, accompanied by his daughter, Pelagia, to whom he imparts much of his healing art. Even when the Italians do invade, life isn't so bad--at first anyway. The officer in command of the Italian garrison is the cultured Captain Antonio Corelli, who responds to a Nazi greeting of "Heil Hitler" with his own "Heil Puccini," and whose most precious possession is his mandolin. It isn't long before Corelli and Pelagia are involved in a heated affair--despite her engagement to a young fisherman, Mandras, who has gone off to join Greek partisans. Love is complicated enough in wartime, even when the lovers are on the same side. And for Corelli and Pelagia, it becomes increasingly difficult to negotiate the minefield of allegiances, both personal and political, as all around them atrocities mount, former friends become enemies, and the ugliness of war infects everyone it touches. British author Louis de Bernières is well known for his forays into magical realism in such novels as The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts, Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord, and The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman. Here he keeps it to a minimum, though certainly the secondary characters with whom he populates his island--the drunken priest, the strongman, the fisherman who swims with dolphins--would be at home in any of his wildly imaginative Latin American fictions. Instead, de Bernières seems interested in dissecting the nature of history as he tells his ever-darkening tale from many different perspectives. Corelli's Mandolin works on many levels, as a love story, a war story, and a deconstruction of just what determines the facts that make it into the history books.

To:                ALL                   Date:    03/21
From:   KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Time:    11:02 AM all in the COMMUNITY OF CR'S...               
  I DARE YOU TO READ 30 pages of CORELLI'S MANDOLIN..just   
pop into a bookstore or library and peek into the book and  
you will have discovered one book of fiction...a cut above  
the rest....for all you historians...especially....         
  each page is filled with writing that is electrifying...i 
realize my excitement permeates these notes fast and furious
and you all out there in cyberspace are grinning oncemore   
and chuckling...there she goes another book book that is    
  gail..a passionate reader in sunny SAN FRANCISCO this a.m.

===============   Reply    1 of Note   32 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Date:    03/21
From:   ERFN90B    ELLEN JOHNSON         Time:     9:13 PM

      I'm so glad you're enjoying this book...It was dreamy.
There are so many great images the one    
where the Italian army is marching into town and Corelli and
his troops are acting goofy in front of Pelagia.  And the   
doctor using the mandolin string to sew up Corelli after his
operation...the postcards.....I wanted this book to go on   

===============   Reply    2 of Note   32 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     ERFN90B    ELLEN JOHNSON         Date:    03/21
From:   KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Time:     9:47 PM

greetings ELLEN OF BRANDON...                               
  i awoke at 4;30 this morning and proceeded to read...since
i have not approached the part you have stated i would like 
to add one of many that have attracted my attention;        
   i must state that the first paragraph is simply  are hooked and the story proceeds with DR.  
IANNIS and his exploits...                                  
    He sat down and wrote:CEPHALLONIA isa factory that      
breeds babies for exports. There are more CEPHALLONIANS     
abroad or at sea than there are at home. There is no        
indigenous industry that keeps families together,there is   
not enough arable land, there is an insufficiency of fish in
the ocean.Our men go abroad and return here to die, and so  
we are an island of children, spinisters, priests, and the  
very old.The only good thing about it is that only the      
beautiful women find husbands amongst those men that are    
left, and so the pressure of natural selection has ensured  
that we have the most beautiful women in all of GREECE, and 
perhaps inthe whole region of the Mediterranean. The unhappy
thing about this is that we have beautiful and spirited     
women married to the most grostesque and inappropriate      
husbands, who are good for nothing and never could be, and  
we have some sad and ugly women that nobody wants, who are  
born to be widows without ever having had a husband...      

To:     NDKB53A    THERESA SIMPSON       Date:    03/25
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    11:58 PM

I'm currently working my way through CORELLI'S MANDOLIN.  It
is interrupting my life a little bit, mostly impinging on my
time to make a dress I'd like to wear in New Orleans (and   
earlier!!).  It seems to me the author owes a heavy debt to 
the Brothers Durrell. This doesn't mean he's a slavish      
imitator, but I see the common threads.  It really makes the
novel a bit more familiar and homelike to me.  I don't      
venture onto this sort of territory very often.             

To:     YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Date:    03/26
From:   KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Time:     4:18 PM

greetings AMAZING CATHERINE...                              
   what a complete surprise to have found you reading       
CORELLI'S MANDOLIN...what page are you on...i am on page    
255.....forget the dress for NEW on...and do 
let me know how you feel...i surmise that you are not       
impressed....i hope it is a library book....                
  i am indeed enthralled with this novel...and have laughed 
my way through many of its sequences....                    
  gail..a passionate reader in sunny SAN FRANCISCO...       
you must have chuckled at some point...                     

To:     KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Date:    03/27
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:     0:53 AM

Gail, as it happens, I'm on 248; I'm a fairly rapid reader. 
I'm not UNIMPRESSED; I was just struck straight off by the  
occurrence of common Durrellian themes - animals (Gerald)   
and lots of basic bedroom-and-bathroom stuff (Lawrence),    
plus the similarity of setting.  The author even mentions   
the Durrell's Corfu and its Saint Spyridion.  I am amused,  
but secretly waiting in agony wondering when and how the    
delightful characters will get bumped off, whether any will 
survive or wish they hadn't, etc.  The descriptions of the  
facist and communist adherents are chillingly real.  I am   
enjoying the numerous musical references.  He uses British  
musical terminology, by the way - all those quavers and     
semi-quavers and such.  I still can't get the hang of which 
is a quarter note, eighth note, dotted sixteenth, etc., but 
I have an idea of what he's talking about.  This cat has    
some idea of how musicians think.                           
  Shari, as I've told others previously, I DO NOT READ      
FAULKNER.  Here is an anecdote to illustrate why.  In       
college I read the nice story about the last lady of a dying
Southern house whose husband simply disappeared and how when
she finally died the authorities found the nice dried up    
little old skeleton in the carefully made bed with the      
silver backed brushes, etc.                                 
  Immediately I thought of my maiden cousins in a small     
town near Nashville, living alone in their large ancestral  
home with five porches, their father's portrait with his    
coffin plate beneath it, and the armadillo shell basket that
frightened Mama in childhood.  These ladies had never dared 
to open the trunks of their long deceased mother, who had   
died quite senile.  These trunks were in the North Room,    
which nobody but family intimates ever visited.  There was  
no heat in this room, and when Mama visited to introduce the
relatives to her (relatively) new husband, Cousin Lockie    
came out of the North Room to shake hands with her hands as 
cold as a corpse.  Maybe it was lucky Mama was already      
married.  Aunt Matt had been allowed into the room around   
1917, when she was expecting her first child.  Aunt Flora   
thought she might give her some baby clothes, but then      
decided not to.  Looking through the trunks, she exclaimed, 
"There's the swabs we used to clean out Dear Mother's throat
before she died!"  I was personally relieved when we were   
allowed to go through the house before it was sold; narry a 
corpse, though there were a quantity of dubious hats.  Aunt 
Flora's father, by the way, had taken the oath and come back
home after the war because his brother WAS a retardate and  
he had to care for him and his mother.  Mr. Faulkner was    
carrying coals to Newcastle as far as I'm concerned.        

To:     YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Date:    03/27
From:   KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Time:     8:59 AM

greetings AMAZING CATHERINE...                              
  one last question till i dash off to work...what          
precipitated your reading of this book...what peaked your   
  gail..a passionate reader in hopefully what appears to be 
a sunny SAN FRANCISCO reading my second bio on T.S.
ELIOT and this one paints an attractive picture of EZRA     

To:     KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Date:    03/28
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:     0:54 AM

When I went to the library this time, I decided to pick up  
and try some of the titles discussed here if I saw them.    
CORELLI'S MANDOLIN it was.  I have just finished it, by the 
way, and was pleased with the afterword in which the author 
detailed his research.  It sounded right for everything I've
ever read or heard, but he'd have had to do some research to
be authentic, having been born in 1954.  The book itself was
touching and the ending more hopeful than could logically   
have been expected for that particular time and place.  Of  
course, mystery buff that I am, I kept all the threads in my
hand and waited for the final data on each character to     
round out the story.                                        
I suppose it was the musical connection that really made me 
pick it up, and all I can say is that his musical writing is
excellent.  I was somewhat at sea in the British/continental
musical technical terms, but I know or know of most of the  
pieces mentioned and could provide a pretty accurate        
translation of most of the Italian.  This is very sensitive 
writing by somebody who knows how a musician thinks and     
feels.  I have frequently felt the frustration of trying to 
put a musical feeling into words.                           
  My son and I have a private joke between us about that,   
since he's experienced the same phenomenon.  There's a      
wonderful passage in ON THE ROAD in which Kerouac describes 
an eccentric gent who plays a recording of DON CARLO,       
conducting wildly in his pajamas.  One of Kerouac's friends 
enthuses that this is the coolest guy he knows and says     
something to the effect, "If we lived like that, we could   
get it."  "Get what?" asked Kerouac.  "IT - IT, IT, IT!!!"  
We've often felt like that.  It's really another dimension, 
and getting it into literature is a wonderful achievement.  

To:     YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Date:    03/28
From:   KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Time:     6:21 PM

greetings AMAZING CATHERINE...                              
   i finished CORELLI'S MANDOLIN...which i took far to much 
time savouring and luxuriating in the style...the writing   
..and every morsel ...i found the momentum sustaining and   
this is something i desire in my readings..however many of  
the modern writers leave me hanging..somewhere in the middle
to the end....                                              
    thanks for sharing your thoughts...i will read them     
again and again and forever keep ANTONIO CORELLI in my      
 gail..a passionate reader who cried happily in CORELLI'S   

To:     KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Date:    03/28
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    10:51 PM

One little note on writing style and technique in CORELLI'S 
MANDOLIN, since we've been talking about that recently.  I  
noticed that the author (whose name I won't even try to     
spell) spent very little time on the mind-numbing atrocities
perpetrated by first the Nazis and then the Communists.     
Instead, he illustrated them with sharp vignettes.  This is 
excellent writing; if you drag something like that out too  
long, you lose your effect.  Again I think of my piano      
teacher - "Hit it and bounce off."                          

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    04/12
From:   ERFN90B    ELLEN JOHNSON         Time:     3:54 PM

       Warning:  Reading KNOWLEDGE OF ANGELS and CORELLI'S  
MANDOLIN back to back can be injurious to your mind....for  
it will crave this level of magic in the future and you will
not be able to replicate it's charms with any two books on  
the planet.                                                 

To:     ERFN90B    ELLEN JOHNSON         Date:    04/13
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:     0:19 AM

Funny CORELLI should come back up again just now.  This     
afternoon I took a mild outing to the new BOOKS A MILLION   
and discovered to my joy an abridged version in the Books on
Tape section.  I immediately bought it despite the fact I'd 
have to borrow my son's tape machine to hear it myself.     
Ever since I read it, I've wanted my father's reaction, and 
his cataracts make reading a large book daunting.  I        
delivered it this afternoon.  My reasons were twofold; this 
is his kind of book but not Mama's, so she wouldn't want to 
read it to him, and he actually lived through the period    
with a good attention to contemporary detail.  I want to see
if a guy born in the early 50s has managed to capture the   
flavor of the times as experienced by the people who were   
there or figured they might wind up going there.  That's    
always a good test, when possible.  Anyway, when I get some 
reactions I'll post.  The reader is one Stephen Lang, with  
whom I'm not familiar.                                      

To:     YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Date:    04/13
From:   ERFN90B    ELLEN JOHNSON         Time:    12:56 PM

       Stephen Lang is oneof those BBC types-great voice.  I
bet the tape is wonderful and I want a full report from your
dad.  I sent my CORELLI'S MANDOLIN book back with my mom to 
Chicago where my dad read it and loved it.  This is         
interesting because he generally sticks to the              
Clancey-Follett books.  His positive review was strickly    
from an enjoyment standpoint as he has never been to Greece 
and spent his war years in the Pacific.  BUT...after dad,   
mom gave it to her hairdresser, Ida Vossos, who came from   
Greece about 25 years ago and she delighted in the book and 
said it was very realistically written, especially the parts
about the Germans, Italians and Greeks relationships with   
each other.  She went on to tell about her older sisters    
flirtations with the various and sundry occupants of her    
island, all the political discussions 'round the table and  
the sadness she felt when after all was said and done the   
Greeks began a war with each other.  That's about the time  
she came over to the US.                                    
       I was impressed at the authors command of the subject
not only because of his age but because of the refreshing   
way he told the story.  Nowadays, the authors are writing   
all the same stuff.                                         
       What are you reading now Cathy?  Don't bother with   
Anne Tyler's new one, LADDER OF YEARS.  I feel like I'm     
betraying this wonderful author by my humble review but it  
didn't have the trademark Tylerisms, the characters weren't 
developed and I found the story implausible.                

To:                ALL                   Date:    04/19
From:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Time:     9:34 PM

gail: On your advice I'm appropriately beguiled by CORELLI'S
MANDOLIN, and am still making occasional forays into Alice  
Munro's OPEN SECRETS for a change of pace. Meanwhile        
Theresa's recommendation, Thomas Sanchez's RABBIT BOSS, sits
next in line on my table. In other words, an embarrassment  
of riches, book-wise.                                       
  A quick question...the first cover blurb on CORELLI'S     
MANDOLIN is by A.S. Byatt, who says that author Louis de    
Bernieres "is in the direct line that runs through Dickens  
and Evelyn Waugh..."                                        
  I'm certainly no scholar, but if there's a direct line    
connecting these three guys--other than them being          
satirists, in a broad sense--I'm obviously missing          
something, here. The three she names seem very strange      
bedfollows. Anybody have a clue as to what Byatt's referring
  >>Dale in Ala.                                            

===============   Reply    1 of Note   50 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    04/19
From:   ERFN90B    ELLEN JOHNSON         Time:    11:32 PM

       Did I miss this intro when I read CORELLI'S          
MANDOLIN...unfortunately I sent the book back to Chicago    
with the folks and it's making the rounds quite succesfully 
there.  I can't believe I would pass up any comments made by
my one of my favorite authors....Byatt.                     
       And yes Dale, she could only mean the connection is  
for their satire but,maybe , sort of, stretching it I could 
see Dickens but NEVER Waugh. I wish I had the book. De      
Berniers is so gentle that you never feel the bite as you do
with the other gentlemen mentioned.                         
       There is only one thing to do....recall the book so I
can read this Byatt proposal.  But I have as good a chance  
of getting it back as I do THE PRINCE OF TIDES, DALVA,      
ACRES.....and all the others that have been loaned out and  
never returned! And BTW, I have purchased TO THE LIGHTHOUSE 
for reading as soon as my conference is over next week.  I'm
looking forward to reading it.                              

To:     ERFN90B    ELLEN JOHNSON         Date:    04/20
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:     0:56 AM

The Byatt commentary was on the back of the dust jacket - a 
good place to be missed.  I hardly ever pay attention to    
things like that; obviously a publisher is going to find    
somebody to say something good about the books they're      
flogging, or twist somebody's opinion to seem that way.  I  
certainly wouldn't have picked up the book on the strength  
of that.  I grabbed it off the New Fiction stand at the     
library at Gail's recommendation and didn't decide to check 
it out until I discovered from the plot synopsis on the     
INSIDE dust jacket that it did indeed have a heavy musical  
connection.  The Frenchman with the weird name certainly    
does not overblow his descriptions like Dickens, who had a  
tendency to overdo his characters.  As his contemporary John
Ruskin pointed out, he almost loses his point about evil    
employers because the evil employers he comes up with are so
blatant as to be unlike the ones encountered in real life.  
  Daddy has apparently heard the part about the Italian     
campaign in Greece; last time I talked to him about it he   
said the stuff described was the reason he strove mightily  
to stay in the cadet corps.  Nasty things can happen going  
down in a bomber, but he knew too much about what went on on
the ground and didn't want any part of it.                  

To:                ALL                   Date:    07/06
From:   WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Time:     1:58 PM

Boy, you guys are prolific.  I leave for one elongated      
weekend and you leave me with 192 messages to read.         
Constant Readers AND Writers.  Two of the books I've read   
lately, ONE TRUE THING and CORELLI'S MANDOLIN left me with a
question.  Has anyone read a book that you really loved but 
there seemed to be some incident that infuriates you and    
makes you say to yourself "I don't really believe they'd DO 
that. The author just arranged it that way to keep the story
going."  The instances I'm talking about (and here anyone   
who wants to read OTT and CM and stay surprised, this is a  
spoiler alert) are 1) in One True Thing, do you really think
the main character would not have talked to her father for  
eight years?!! I do not understand the motivation here.     
Does anyone else?  And in CORELLI'S MANDOLIN which I        
absolutely adored, do you honestly think that Corelli would 
not have spoken to his true love EVEN if he thought she was 
married?  That part infuriated me and seemed so out of      
character.  Of course the book would have to have ended     
sooner.  Corelli seemed like the type of person who would   
have at least have said "Hello."  Am I being too literal    
here; too immersed in the story lines and forgetting about  
some literary device that the author intended?  My answer to
myself is (I question myself a lot, and give myself all the 
right answers, to boot) literary device or not, the story is
a story and needs to be true to human nature especially if  
the rest of the book seems to rest on that premise.  What do
YOU think?                                                  
Sherry, just back from Up North and an old-fashion small    
town Fourth of July. Why is it small towns are always better
when they're somebody else's?                               

===============   Reply    1 of Note   20 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Date:    07/06
From:   KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Time:    11:55 PM

greetings SHERRY...                                         
  didn't CORELLI spy his love with a child...wasn't that the
reason he gave for turning away....and in ONE SURE          
THING..yes i can understand and know people who have not    
talked to relatives for long problem with ONE
SURE THING...the beginning...too graphic...the book really  
took off after the mother expires....ANNA QUINDLEN spun a   
good tale based on personal for our dear    
SMART...didn't want to be know as MR. SMART...              
  i had no problem with CM...i am a reader who permits the  
writer to take me on his journey....i can excuse the writer 
for many devices which perhaps were used to end the novel or
speed it up or whatever...if the novel engenders the effect 
i am seeking....beautiful language coupled with an unusual  
tale...characters i can love and hate...a story that truly  
INTERRUPTS MY LIFE...                                       
  glad you chose these two books to read..two of my         
favorites that i i recommend THE TRIAL OF   
ELZIABETH CREE by peter                                     
ackroyd...murder..mystery...VICTORIAN LONDON...exceptional  
writing... gail..a passionate reader in simply scrumptious  
SAN FRANCISCO where my impatiens are flourishing...         

===============   Reply    2 of Note   20 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Date:    07/07
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:     1:22 AM

There are a couple of things at work in CORELLI'S MANDOLIN. 
The simpler one is the combat fatigue which made many men   
act strange and feel overly sensitive about trifles just    
following the conflict.                                     
  The other is that he is Italian.  Italians appear to be   
even stronger than WASPS about the idea that if anybody else
has touched their woman they don't want her - love or no.   
The most exaggerated example of the phenomenon I'm aware of 
- and DOES it make me mad - occurs in Verdi's SIMON         
BOCCANEGRA in which the villain suggests to the tenor that  
his beloved who has just saved his life is really the       
mistress of the Doge, his enemy.  He bursts into fury at    
the Doge, but this reaction soon blows over.  Instead we get
 one of Verdi's nice, slow melodies and "Merciful Heaven,   
bring her back to this heart pure as the angels.  But if    
some cloud obscures her virtue, may I never see her again." 
She comes in immediately afterward and hides him from the   
Doge's (her newly discovered father's) anger.  I would have 
given him 20 seconds for old times' sake before calling in  
the palace guard to skewer him.  Remember, Corelli was an   
opera lover and grew up in this ultra male chauvinist pig   

===============   Reply    3 of Note   20 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Date:    07/07
From:   WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Time:     8:38 AM

Thanks for putting things into perspective. It now seems to 
make more historical sense, except I would have thought he  
would have at least said Hello. Well, then. Yes, Gail, it   
was a transporting book, one that I would recommend to      
anyone I know who loves language and story. And for ONE TRUE
THING. Yes, I know relatives who haven't spoken to each     
other for years, but I have a hard time understanding her   
motivation.  I suppose her motivation was she really did NOT
want to know the truth about his feeding her mother the     
pudding.  I just know that if it'd had been ME, who seems to
always be clamoring for details, I would not have been able 
to keep my mouth shut for that long. Especially about       
something as important as THAT.                             

To:     WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Date:    07/07
From:   TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Time:     9:37 PM

As for CORELLI'S MANDOLIN, my reaction matched yours        
exactly. I felt cheated in a way which I do not think I     
would have if he had just died during the war. Cathy has    
pointed out that maybe Corelli was just a product of his    
times and his nationality in his reaction to seeing the     
heroine with a child and viewing her as used goods which he 
no longer wanted.  I remember she asked him if he had       
considered that she could have been raped . He replied that 
he had, but that the fact that she was not a virgin still   
made a difference to him. Now, in the many previous pages of
this novel I had seen no signs whatsoever that Corelli was  
anything but a kind and exceptionally sensitive human being 
(surely there were no signs of  him being a latent          
chauvinist pig). Therefore I did not feel this was in       
character at all. Plus I agree with you, it is inconceivable
to me that he could have returned to Greece so many times   
and not even spoken to her. Given all that, I still thought 
that this book was one of the best I have read in recent    
memory, and it is one that I would like to reread in the    
future. Once the strange idyll of the Italian occupation was
over, everything fell apart. Life was hell for everyone on  
the island under the Germans and the communists. I guess in 
light of this,  the author just could not bring himself to  
write a truly happy ending. I don't know about you, but the 
fact that the couple got together again in their            
mid-seventies was not much consolation to me.               

I'm so glad, Ann, that you had the same reaction I did about
CORELLI's MANDOLIN.  I feel validated.  Cathy's argument    
about his loving opera and his being Italian made perfect   
sense in terms of stereotype, but Corelli was not           
stereotype.  At least I had hoped not.  I took that very    
personally.  He was such a strong unique character, such a  
wonderful man to be in love with, and he turns out to be . .
. ordinary.  I have to say my favorite character in the book
was Carlo.  I was gasping for air when he saved Corelli's   
life.  A nobler character I've never met in literature.  I  
will remember that scene always.  It is etched in my memory 
(I'm starting to sound like GAIL).  And yes, it seemed small
solace that the couple finally got together in the end, but 
at least they were still able to ride the motorcycle.       

To:     TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Date:    07/08
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:     0:11 AM

I considered the fact that they got together again and were 
alive to do so an uncovenanted mercy, rare indeed in stories
that deal with WWII based romances and rarer still in the   
life of the time.  There were so many tragedies, botched and
unfinished endings; I almost got the feeling the author was 
trying to make up for some of the things that had happened. 
 That was such a gruesome, bitter time in that part of the  
world.  One thing I do wonder about, though; did the British
really leave that quite historical island to the mercy of   
the Germans rather than reveal they had broken the codes?   
So many tales like that are told now by modern              
"revisionists", and Daddy grinds his false teeth because he 
remembers so much.  Larry asked him about the truth of a    
statement he'd heard on BABYLON FIVE to the effect that     
Churchill had deliberately allowed the bombing of Coventry  
for just such a reason, and I haven't seen him that mad in  

Yes, I absolutely agree with you about Carlo in CORELLI'S   
MANDOLIN. For me, the strongest scene in the book was       
Carlo's description of  the death of his beloved Francisco  
-- the sanitized, heroic tale he told to Francisco's mother,
interwoven with the horror of the death as it actually      
Well, Sherry, I am so glad that you posted your original    
note on these two books. Both of them made such an emotional
impact on me. I have really enjoyed discussing them.        
Cathy, I felt that this story rang emotionally true, but I  
did not know if that particular island really existed or if 
the details of the World War II history were supposed to be 
accurate What do you think?                                 

To:     TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Date:    07/09
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:     0:08 AM

There is certainly an island called Cephallonia (one        
spelling); I just looked it up.  A lot of wild-haired       
theories are now being bandied about about that period,     
though.  I even stay away from that topic on the board      
because everybody seems interested only in how rotten we and
the British were - getting the truth of the era all out of  
  This male thing of rejecting a woman who's been, willingly
or unwillingly, with another man is not by any means        
confined to Italy and to #%&*~~! true to be a stereotype.  I
first came across it in a book by a New York DA.  He was    
describing his prosecution of a serial rapist who had       
finally murdered a beautiful and devout young woman, a crime
that shocked the city.  His normal m.o. was to go to the    
house when the husband was gone, ask to be allowed to wait  
there for him, and then to ask for an asprin, bringing out  
all those instincts to help that are pounded into every     
woman from birth.  This was established by the voluntary    
testimony of a number of women who came forward after the   
murder.  The DA wrote that he admired these women's courage,
sitting there telling all this while their husbands looked  
at them with repulsion and disgust.  This account disturbed 
me so much I asked my father what kind of man could call    
himself a man and react this way to a woman who had so      
obviously been hurt.  He replied this attitude was pretty   
common in men born before the 1960's.  It was a mindset he  
was quite familiar with.  Of course, this fits all too well 
with the old "women as property" thing which was pretty well
written in law in the 19th century and before.              

To:     WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Date:    07/09
From:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Time:    10:43 AM

Sherry: I felt the same way about the ending of CORELLI'S   
MANDOLIN; very unsatisfying, for reasons I'm still trying to
put my finger on.                                           
  Cathy's explanation about cultural attitudes makes it a   
little more understandable that the lovers wouldn't have    
gotten together sooner, but it's not that outcome alone that
bothers me. It's almost as if the whole tone of the writing 
changes, near the end, from a wonderful larger-than-life    
exuberance to half-hearted and ordinary. Maybe that was     
deBernieres' intent, but still...                           
  A conventional "happy" ending might have been out of the  
question, after all the suffering and destruction the people
and the land had gone through, but "a bang, not a whimper"  
would have been nice, to steal a phrase.                    
  I felt the same way about Donna Tartt's THE SECRET        
HISTORY, a couple of years ago. She maintains the emotional 
tone so flawlessly all the way through, especially for a    
first-time novelist, and then the ending seems sort of      
obligatory and tacked-on.                                   
  Anyway, CORRELLI'S MANDOLIN definitely joins my list of   
favorite books. The early chapters (19 & 20, I think) that  
contrast the reality of war with the glorified version told 
the dead soldier's mother are as powerful as any piece of   
fiction I've ever read.                                     
  Welcome home from the Northland,                          
  >>Dale in the Southland                                   

To:     YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Date:    07/09
From:   TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Time:     4:54 PM

Thanks for the info on Cephallonia. It seemed to me that the
major theme of CORELLI'S MANDOLIN was the absurdity and     
absolute horror of war. Although World War II may be one of 
the few wars in which there were so clearly 'good guys' and 
'bad guys', no side can remain completely innocent in a war.
Remember in the book how the British officer was forced to  
support  the cruel and crafty Communists for political      
reasons? The Communists killed innocent villagers, yet they 
continued to receive Allied aid. Those are the kind of      
compromises that military leaders make again and again. I   
guess the idea that the Allies could have abandoned the     
inhabitants of the island to the Germans rather than reveal 
that they had broken the code didn't really bother me that  
much because I was approaching this as a work of fiction,   
which told a great deal about the general truths of war,    
without being based on exact historical fact.               
Having said this, I can understand your concern with        
revisionism when applied to  non-fiction. It has been a long
time since I studied history and I am afraid that my        
knowledge is extremely rusty. I do remember one old         
revisionist book, however, which I think was called THE BACK
DOOR TO WAR . The thesis of this was the Roosevelt          
encouraged the Japanese to attack because that is the only  
way that he could trick  the country into joining the       
European War. I think political history is often distorted  
by the prejudices of the authors, as well perhaps by their  
desire to be provocative in order to get something          
While I am sure that there are still men around who would   
consider a rape victim 'damaged goods', I like to think that
most of my middle aged male contemporaries (definitely born 
way before the 1960's) would not react that way.  Of course,
the irony of CORELLI'S MANDOLIN was that, in reality, the   
heroine remained a virgin at least until her 70's.  After   
she and Corelli were reunited, who knows ?                  
I certainly agree with you, Dale, that the whole tone of    
this book changed at the end. It would be interesting to    
know if the author had any comments on this.                

===============   Reply   11 of Note   20 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/09
From:   WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Time:     5:09 PM

Dear Dale,                                                  
When I was in the throes of reading the last of CORELLI'S   
MANDOLIN I expect that my experience was in microcosm what  
the heroine (name?Pelagia?) felt. I was in a state of total 
expectation. I kept thinking, he'll show up NOW, no...      
NOW... oh, shoot, NOW? She kept getting older and older and 
he kept NOT SHOWING UP. If the author's intent was to       
absolutely envelope the reader in a sense of what the       
character must have felt, he really did succeed in my case. 
  I would have just has soon gotten carried away in         
all-enveloping swoon, however, and have them GET TOGETHER   
SOONER. But, I'm a sucker for happy endings. It was happy in
a way, just terribly overdue.                               
As I am writing this, I am reminded of the sense of TIME in 
TO THE LIGHTHOUSE.  These two books may not have much in    
common, except how they treat time.  Speeding it up, slowing
it down. Woolfe sped up the middle of the book.  DeBernieres
(sp?) the end.  I thought Woolfe's treatment of time was    
much more skillfully done and more satisfying.  In Corelli  
it did seem a bit tacked on, but boy-oh-boy did it hold my  
attention, however disappointed I was at the outcome.       
Sherry thanking you for my welcome back...                  

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/09
From:   KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Time:    11:29 PM

greetings CERTIFIED BOOK JUNKIE...                          
   regarding finale's that don't measure up to the content  
of the you think perhaps the author just ran out  
of steam...didn't know how to end it or perhaps just chose  
this path as the best manner ..his particular style...      
  SHERRY....WHAT do you think...                            
 BTW DE BERNIERES based this on HOMER....did any of you     
guess this....                                              
      gail..a passionate reader in windy SAN FRANCISO       

To:     KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Date:    07/10
From:   WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Time:     9:38 AM

greetings gracious gail,                                    
No I had no idea that de Bernieres based CM on HOMER. It's  
probably because I am not well-versed in the classics. Can  
you tell us more?                                           
Sherry in Milwaukee on a cloudy cool summer day             

To:     WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Date:    07/12
From:   TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Time:     8:26 PM

At the library today, out of curiosity,  I looked up the    
author of CORELLI'S MANDOLIN in Contemporary Authors. I     
found this quote from DeBernieres:                          
"I had always known I was going to be a writer. I am        
interested in issues of freedom, power and ideology,        
especially in Latin America. I use humor to make serious    
points. Culturally, I am very French. I have only women     
friends. (I don't like or understand most men). I hate waste
and do everything myself."                                  
His avocation was listed as playing classical and flamenco  
guitar. He taught for a time in South America. Well----I    
found the comments about women and men VERY interesting in  
light of our discussion about Corelli and how he seemed such
a chauvinist at the end. I think maybe you were right after 
all, Cathy. Perhaps some of us were  more impressed with his
charm and  apparent nobility of soul  than was the author.  
The publication of this volume of Comtemporary Authors was  
1991, considerably prior to the U.S. publication of         
CORELLI'S MANDOLIN, so unfortunately the reference was very 

To:                ALL                   Date:    10/03
From:   UXRM31A    JOAN BAILEY           Time:     6:50 PM

CORELLI'S MANDOLIN by Louis de Bernieres                    
I went back to Books & Books last night, here in Miami, for 
a reading by the author of this wonderful book, which I read
a few months ago.  He was just as interesting as you would  
imagine from having read his book, and has a wonderful and  
odd sense of humor.  He is also a constant reader himself   
and loves the books of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  The book    
he's working on right now is going to be about Drosoula     
(Mandras' mother in Corelli) when she was a young girl in   
Turkey. Afterwards, I spoke with a man who had read his     
three prior books as well, but who said they were very      
different than Corelli and that he didn't enjoy them as     
much.  Has anyone else read anything by de Bernieres?  Joan 

===============   Reply    1 of Note   14 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     UXRM31A    JOAN BAILEY           Date:    10/03
From:   KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Time:     9:23 PM

greetings JOAN...                                           
       thanks for the information on LOUIS DE BERNIERES     
forthcoming book....i will relay this to my group this month
as we will be reviewing CORELLI'S MANDOLIN...i read it      
awhile back and was enthralled with his prose...story...the 
story was pure magic....infact this book is on my BEST BOOKS
OF 1995 list....                                            
  regarding his other three books..they are SENOR VIVO AND  
i don't have handy) haven't read any of these ..did
peruse them..two of them...somehow CORELLI'S MANDOLIN is his
crowning glory....he was on NPRand TERRY GROSS interviewed  
him....HE seems charming and gregarious...                  
 i look forward to his new novel....also i'dlike to         
recommend STONES FROM THE RIVER by ursula hegi...a page     
 happy reading...gail..a passionate reader who is off to    
read CM for a second time to refresh my memory for my       
reading fast we forget...but while we are reading
we are in HEAVEN...  thanks for your post...                

===============   Reply    2 of Note   14 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     UXRM31A    JOAN BAILEY           Date:    10/04
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:     0:01 AM

Drousola was an interesting character, and I'd be happy to  
learn more of her background.  In CORELLI he touched lightly
on the circumstances under which Turks were dumped willy    
nilly on this little island for some reason or other.  It   
was one of those vast injustices that are so quickly        
forgotten, so that everybody thinks the world has only just 
now turned rotten, uncaring, etc.  I was really interested  
in the odd family grouping of Drousola, Pelagia, and the    
female orphan whose name I forget.  It's women survivors    
taking care of themselves and each other, something that    
does happen sometimes, but not too often.                   

===============   Reply    3 of Note   14 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Date:    10/04
From:   UXRM31A    JOAN BAILEY           Time:     7:41 AM

Hi Gail... I just remembered another thing that de Berniers 
metioned during his talk.  He said that he reads a lot more 
contemporary fiction than he used to as he meets and becomes
friendly with other authors and then feels compelled to read
their books!  Right now he's reading The Secret History by  
Donna Tartt, because his best friend is dating Ms. Tartt.   
He says he is enjoying it.  I read it myself a couple years 
ago and liked it too.  Of course it doesn't have the        
richness or depth of Corelli's Mandolin but I thought it was
a page turner.  Thanks for the tip of Stones from the River.
What's the setting of the book?    Joan                     

To:     UXRM31A    JOAN BAILEY           Date:    10/11
From:   FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Time:     0:05 AM

I just returned from hearing Louis de Bernieres give a      
reading from CORELLI'S MANDOLIN.  I haven't read this book  
yet, but it sounds wonderful!  I want to thank all of you   
CR's because if it hadn't been for you, I would never have  
heard of Louis deB.  I told him that I was there  at his    
reading because I had heard about him on the computer, and  
he was amazed.                                              
He read three sections;  one about his character's arrival  
on the Greek island, the second from the Mussolini chapter, 
and the third about Corelli's  romance with a Greek girl.   
Between the second and third readings he answered questions.
He told about his family's involvement in WWII and about the
losses that they had experienced.  When I asked about his   
writing career, he said it took off after he had a serious  
motorcycle accident and decided to rework a short story that
he had written years before.  He mainly did this to help    
pass time, but the story turned into his first novel.  I    
also asked if he is now writing full time and he said that  
he has been for the past two years.  For several years      
before that he worked as a teacher of troubled kids.  And   
the only thing that he misses from teaching is the silly    
jokes the kids used to tell him.  I loved sitting there and 
listening to him read with his British accent.  He was also 
quite open about his answers and didn't hesitate to talk    
about his background.  He was very charming.  Thanks CR's   
for helping me discover this fine author. (Except now, I    
bought two more books.)  Jane in 75 degree Colorado.        

===============   Reply   15 of Note   14 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Date:    10/11
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    11:38 PM

I had wondered about the man's background and just how      
authentic his "feel" for the time and place of the Corelli  
story was.  The bio made him too young to have experienced  
the war himself, and the French didn't have all that much to
do with the Greek theater that I ever heard of.             
  Personally, I didn't find anything wrong with the "feel", 
but I did wonder where he got it.  For one thing, you can't 
write anything about Greece without sounding like the       
Brothers Durrell, and I began to wonder if he was           
derivative.  His knowledge of opera, by the way, is genuine.

===============   Reply   16 of Note   14 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Date:    10/12
From:   FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Time:    11:40 PM

I asked Mr. deB. if his father was French, and he said that 
his family had come to England during the time of Louis XIV.
Both sets of grandparents lost their homes during the WWII  
bombings of England, his mother lost her fiance and his     
father served in the war and lost many friends.             
 When I was ten years old we visited England, and I remember
seeing the bombed out city blocks that still had not been   
rebuilt.  This was in 1957.  So I imagine that any person of
our generation grew up hearing stories of the war.  Jane who
just returned from the choir concert at school.             

To:                ALL                   Date:    01/19
From:   FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Time:     9:53 PM

CORELLI'S MANDOLIN                                          
chere petite gail,                                          
Tonight I am finishing CM - I have only seven pages left to 
Here are a few quick impressions.  The pre-war and early war
episodes are wonderful and idyllic.  The war and post-war   
parts are quite depressing.  One of the most upsetting parts
is when Antonio finally comes back and says to Pelagia that 
he hadn't wanted her if she had been raped.  He refers to   
her as "damaged goods."  How could a man who had gone       
through all of the horrors of war really think this?        
I know that many of you read this book last year.  I did not
read the discussion at that time because I wanted to be     
surprised by the book.  Now, if you have time please post   
your impressions.                                           
Jane who still hasn't been able to find RABBIT BOSS.        

To:     FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Date:    01/19
From:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Time:    10:00 PM

Jane: Glad you read CORELLI'S MANDOLIN, definitely one of my
favorite books of last year.                                
  A couple of chapters, on the day-to-day details of war,   
are some of the most powerful writing on the subject I've   
ever seen. And the chapter where the soldier visits his dead
comrade's mother and tells her a sanitized, comforting      
version of his "heroic" death just tore my heart out.       
  I agree with several folks here who said the very last    
section of the novel is the only part that didn't ring      
absolutely true. But a very small flaw, I'd say, in a       
brilliant and moving piece of work.                         
  >>Dale in Ala.                                            

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    01/20
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:     0:49 AM

Jane, as I mentioned at the time, Corelli's attitude was an 
unfortunately common one at the time.  I asked my father    
once about this perception (he being Corelli's contemporary,
more or less), and he said that, while he didn't feel that  
way, it was the general male attitude for anybody born in   
the US before the '60s.                                     
  I know this is doubly true of Italians because I've run   
across the same thing in opera.  The scene that makes me the
maddest occurs in SIMON BOCCANEGRA, where the young hero    
whose beloved has just bluffed her way out of kidnappers'   
hands and pled for him with the Doge sings "Merciful heaven,
return her pure as an angel.  But if there is some cloud on 
her virtue, may I never see her again".  The lady comes in a
moment later, finds him in the Doge's bedroom when he should
be in the hoosegaw, and hides him.  My own gut reaction     
would be to give him fifteen seconds head start before I    
started screaming for the guards.                           
  The musical parts were wonderful.  When Corelli kneels and
begins to bark "Sola, Perduta, Abandonata", he is parodying 
the big last act aria of Puccini's MANON LESCAUT, by the    
way.  The ending, especially with the musical tie up, seemed
to me to be an uncovenanted mercy.  Reunion of WWII         
sweethearts HAS happened in real life, by the way - it's    
even been reported in the company newsletter.    Cathy      

To:     FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Date:    01/20
From:   KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Time:    10:18 AM

greetings MADEMOISELLE JANE...                              
    i concur with our CERTIFIED BOOK JUNKIE ABOUT one of the
most poignant parts of the book....when FRANCISCO..returns  
to the mother of his correct if the names are     
erroneous....anyhow i read that part over and over ..INFACT 
AT MY GROUP...i read it aloud... I THOUGHT IT WAS SIMPLY    
BRILLANT...and the manner in which FRANCISCO protects the mother inlaw..yes, the name escapes me  
if the subject of LOUIS DE BERNEIRES new book....i love ugly
people and she was carved out by the author to have a heart 
of gold....what a woman.....strength personified......WHEN I
READ THIS BOOK...i thought i would never be the same...I    
thought i would never find another to equal...THE PROBLEM WE
ENCOUNTER WITH g read it and marveled at the this mr. g doesn't enjoy much fiction...i was   
enthralled with his experience....NOW I AM ON THE WARPATH to
encounter other books of equal or on a higher plateau...    
  when i finished LOUIS DE BERNEIRES book..i ordered several
of his others just to peruse and examine the style..which   
was not to my liking but he is one fine writer.....i do have
research on him..pertaining to his life and if you are      
interested in could fax or mail to you or give t o you in   
NASHVILLE...of course by then we shall be on TO THE wonderful this WORLD OF BOOKS is...i could not  
exist without it.....AND MY DEAR MADEMOISELLE JANE...i know 
what you are experiencing AFTER finishing this              
i thrived on all the war activities and the tactics and the 
lack of heart is thumping thinking about these 
wonderful sections that made me jump up for joy that i had  
discovered a rare experience in literature....CORELLI'S     
MANDOLIN was my favorite book of last year.....the book that
follows that is STONES FROM THE RIVER...ursula hegi..I HAD  
forgotten if you read it....  must dash..thanks for sharing 
gail.. a passionate reader to hear ALICE WALKER...    

To:     KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Date:    01/20
From:   WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Time:     3:58 PM

 gracious gail,                                             
I think the character you are referring to is CARLO not     
Francisco. He was just about my favorite character too, so  
noble, although I adored the doctor/father.                 
Sherry in Milwaukee                                         

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    01/20
From:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Time:     4:54 PM

Jane and Dale,                                              
I read CORELLI'S MANDOLIN the first week in December and    
liked it so well I gave a copy to my daughter for Christmas.
 One of the joys of this book was that it was so beautifully
written.  I found myself glorying in a wonderful phrase, a  
clever turn of words, reading bits of it over and over just 
for the way in which something was said.  I think I         
mentioned in regards to another book that I found the return
of Corelli after so many years required too much of a       
"willing suspension of disbelief" on my part.  Also there   
was a bit of a rush to wind things up.  That said, I think  
that this book has to go to the top of my list for Best Book
of the Year.                                                
Ruth, on a glorious, sunny day in so. CA, with rain forecast
for tomorrow                                                

To:     KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Date:    01/20
From:   FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Time:    10:59 PM

Dale, Cathy, gail, Sherry, Ruth and all lovers of CM,       
I was so thrilled to read all of your notes!  I, too, loved 
Carlo.  What a kind and noble man!  Dr. Iannis was wonderful
also.  And didn't you love reading his history and his cures
for the various illnesses in his village?  There were so    
many wonderful characters, including the village giant and  
the rotund priest who lost weight as he gained faith.  At   
the beginning of the novel, I felt a strong urge to visit   
the island of Cephallonia, but at the end I wasn't so sure. 
When I saw Louis de B. at the Tattered Cover, he read the   
sections about LaScala in the latrines, about Pelagia and   
Corelli going to the hut but deciding not to have sex, and  
the section entitled IL DUCE.  I am sure that he was        
disappointed that there were only ten of us there, but it   
was a wonderful thing for me to be able to ask him questions
about his background.  Jane who appreciates CR more and     
more.  Thanks to all of you for recommendig CORELLI'S       

To:     SCYV62A    TERESA HESS           Date:    02/18
From:   SEZG73A    STEVE WARBASSE        Time:     9:07 PM

     Teresa, your relatively recent post concerning         
CORELLI'S MANDOLIN finally put me over the top after having 
been reading raves about it, most particularly from gail,   
for months.  I picked it up this past week and am about 175 
pages into it.  The island of Cephallonia has just been     
occupied, and I have yet to meet the title character, but   
already I am stunned by this book!  It is an absolutely     
brilliant work.  Thank you very much.  Your post was the    
one that finally created some critical mass of motivation   
within me to get started on this one.  And do I love it!    
                         Your pal, Steve                    

To:     SEZG73A    STEVE WARBASSE        Date:    02/19
From:   SCYV62A    TERESA HESS           Time:    10:46 AM

Steve, you will have probably devoured the rest of CORELLI  
by the time you read this -- so glad you took it up. I think
part of what I enjoyed so much about this work was the      
panoply of relationships. Against the backdrop of the       
madness of war, these unforgettable characters resolve their
differences and live in mutual respect, quite a contrast to 
what's happening in the world around them. Dr. Iannes and   
his friends Kokolios and Stamatis, the Communist and        
anarchist (or do I have this reversed?)and their compatriots
at the kapheneia -- loved their comraderie -- a lesson for  
the world's armies. If I'm calculating correctly, you just  
finished the chapter L' Omosessuale (6), and I can't think  
of a piece of writing that has moved me more...I had a      
visceral reaction to the pain of this good, good man. I'll  
be delighted to hear of your reactions to this book. Teresa 
in Salt Lake City, to whom Dr. Iannes' thoughts on Pelagia's
goat could apply -- "The doctor was distressed by its       
philistine capacity for digesting literature..."            

To:                ALL                   Date:    02/11
From:   SCYV62A    TERESA HESS           Time:     5:11 PM

CORELLI'S MANDOLIN... being new to CR I hope I'm not delving
into something you've already discussed at length, but in   
gail's parlance, this book INTERRUPTED MY LIFE. Stole every 
spare moment I could this week to envelop myself in De      
Bernieres timeless world, and excused myself early from a   
dinner party last night just to finish it. The unforgettable
characters and artful weaving of history and myth were      
marvelous in a story so poignant that it renders one's heart
at the same time it makes one laugh out loud. The history   
and people came alive for me in such a palpable way -- like 
watching a well-filmed epic unfold before my eyes -- you    
could just SEE them. Made me think back to when I read Con- 
roy's BEACH MUSIC and was flabbergasted at his sacrifice of 
plot to ridiculous pandering to what might create drama on  
film.. i.e. the airport scene. CORELLI contains so many     
marvelous vignettes that would translate beautifully to     
film, crafted in a seemingly effortless style and grace. The
treatment of Corelli and Pelagia's relationship should also 
stand as an example to the romance starved legions that made
the sloppily sentimental BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY a        
bestseller... Waller would be shamed to read this.The       
chapter How A Woman Is Like A Mandolin -- lovely. I wept at 
the fate of L'Omosessuale... to whatever kind CR originally 
recommended this book -- thank you, thank you, thank you.   
Teresa in Salt Lake City, where her narcissus are warily    
peeking their heads through the rapidly thawing snow        

To:     SCYV62A    TERESA HESS           Date:    02/11
From:   KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Time:     9:35 PM

greetings TERESA OF THE GREENHOUSE..                        
the part that tore me apart was the CARLO and FRANCISCO     
segment....when carlo dies and francisco visits his mother  
and the dialogue was utterly beautiful...i read it aloud at 
BERNIERES other books are interesting....not for me..too    
comic....he certainly can write!  glad you hear it is       
INTERRUPTING YOUR it did mine....and even mr. g   
read it and commented on how talented the writer is...and   
mr. g barely utters a word when he reads....gail..a         
passionate reader in 70 degreesin SAN FRANCISCO...          

To:     KGXC73A    GAIL SINGER GROSS     Date:    02/11
From:   SCYV62A    TERESA HESS           Time:    10:11 PM

gail, I know absolutely nothing about De Bernieres other    
than what was contained in the liner notes. His background  
seems amusingly eclectic... tell me more of what you know. A
book about the mother, her name evades me at the time,      
exceedingly tall and terribly ugly, but with the strength to
disown her brute of a son --- a character rich in           
potential.Has Catherine Hill read this work? I'd be         
interested to learn of its historical accuracy (or lack     
thereof). I'm anxious to hear your report on the Jamaica    
Kincaid lecture... Teresa, green with envy over your        

To:     SCYV62A    TERESA HESS           Date:    02/11
From:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Time:    11:16 PM

I, too, enjoyed CORELLI'S MANDOLIN.  It was on gail's       
recommendation BTW.  She always has so many good ones.  I   
liked CM so much I gave it to my daughter for Christmas.  Do
you think part of the fascination is its rather             
old-fashioned structure?  I liked the book right from the   
git-go, in fact, I insisted on reading the first few pages  
aloud to my husband.  An excellent book, I think, although  
my dear friend who owns a bookstore didn't care for it.  I  
was surprised.                                              
Ruth, in CA, where it's been gray and grummy, but where we  
expect a little sunshine sent down from gail's way soon     

To:     SCYV62A    TERESA HESS           Date:    02/11
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    11:49 PM

Yes, Teresa, I did read CORELLI early this year.  As for the
accuracy of the Greek setting, for the first few chapters I 
had the suspicion he was reworking Lawrence Durrell - which 
should make it pretty accurate, since Durrell spent so much 
time in that area.  The only thing that bothered me was the 
suggestion that the British sacrificed the island rather    
than allow the Germans to realize their code had been       
broken.  That smacks a little too much of some of the so    
called "revisionist" analysis of the johnny-come-latelys who
have even less remembrance of the war than I do.  (I was    
born two weeks after VJ day.)  Now there are books and      
analyses on Allied brutality, and of course the old claim   
that Roosevelt deliberately put all those planes at Pearl   
and practically invited the Japanese to attack 'em.  It may 
have happened as des Bernieres said - the British weren't   
saints, and dark deeds were done - but I'd like some        
  Actually, I don't generally read this kind of dark history
 What really made me pick up the book was gail's passing    
references to music and the mandolin on the cover.          
Operatically speaking, it is very, VERY accurate, and the   
description of Corelli's composition around Pelagia's March 
had the ring of musical truth.  It was probably responsible 
for my not feeling, as many did, that the ending was sort   
of patched and unrealistically happy.  An uncovenanted      
mercy, certainly.  Another thing that was real was the      
seemingly incredible time distance when the articles were   
recovered from the basement - it was like ancient history   
and yet within the memory of living people.                 
  All the talk on the effect of the war on music and        
musicians led me to go to some of my sources and post a     
couple of biographical excerpts about two singers who       
actually were in the war zone - Maria Callas as a budding   
young singer in Occupied Greece and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
as an unwilling soldier in Italy.  CORELLI caught much of   
the truth of their experiences.             Cathy           

To:     YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Date:    02/12
From:   SFKX01A    PATRICK WILCOX        Time:     8:01 AM

  "patched and unrealistically happy," you say of the ending
of CORELLI'S MANDOLIN.                                      
  I read the book some time after most other people here    
did, and therefore I didn't say anything about what I       
thought of it.  Though I very much liked it, I too thought  
the ending "patched," though I did not think it             
"unrealistically happy."  I actually thought it was         
unrealistically UNHAPPY; that is, I thought that what       
unahppiness there was (the colossal misunderstanding that   
keeps Pelagia and Corelli apart so long) was insufficiently 
accounted for: that intelligent people would allow such a   
thing to happen was not made to be believeable.          -p.

To:     SCYV62A    TERESA HESS           Date:    02/19
From:   SEZG73A    STEVE WARBASSE        Time:     2:14 PM

 Not that it makes an inordinate amount of difference,      
Teresa, but the political roles that you are attempting to  
recall go like this.  Stamatis is a royalist.  Kokolios is  
a communist.  Dr. Iannis characterizes himself as a         
"Venizelist." They are quite often joined in their          
discussions at the kapheneia by Father Arsenios, who is of  
course a drunk.  I am as charmed by the relationship        
of these men as you were, listening in on their exchange of 
ideas and insults.                                          
 The term "Venizelist" aroused my curiosity and required    
some extra credit research.  The term refers to Eleutherios 
Venizelos (1864-1936), who I find was a giant in modern     
Greek history.  He participated in the revolt against the   
Turks at the end of the last century.  He became prime      
minister in 1910 but came into conflict with King           
Constantine over which side Greece should favor in World    
War I, Venizelos advocating the cause of the England and    
France and the king advocating that of the Germans.  The    
king eventually abdicated and Greece entered the war on the 
side of England and France.  He continued his life-long     
battle with the Turks and was instrumental in obtaining     
more territory from them for Greece after the war's end.    
He was prime minister in the twenties but was defeated in   
1932 as a result of the depression.  Thereafter, he         
participated in an unsuccessful antimonarchist revolt,      
fled, and died in exile in Paris.  That is probably more    
than you wanted to know about Venizelos, but in summary     
when the Doctor characterizes himself as a "Venizelist," he 
means that he is a liberal democrat.                        
 I am at Chapter 35 and am regarding with alarm the         
transformation of Mandras, now a member of ELAS, into a     
terrorist.  I have now made the acquaintance of Captain     
Corelli.  Lastly, I very much agree with you concerning     
L'Omosessuale.  It is impossible not to be engaged by this  
 I will continue to report.                                 
 gail, I will proceed on to that next book that you have    
suggested immediately upon finishing this one.  It appears  
that the best course of action is to simply turn the        
organization of my reading itinerary over to you.  This I   
have done.                                                  
     Your pal, Steve                                        

To:     TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Date:    02/19
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    11:26 PM

Re: Greek politics and Turks - I confess I hadn't thought to
follow up on Dr. Iannos's political hero.  Thanks for the   
information, Steve.  I have learned recently, somewhat to my
surprise, that there were a number of stray Russians down   
fighting for the Greeks in the rebellion of the 1820s and   
'30s - the one that saw the Parthenon blow up and Lord Byron
swim the Hellespont and later die.  Pushkin even gave the   
Greek faction a name - hetairists or something like that.   
This piqued me, since it is strikingly similar to the       
ancient Greek hetera, the word for the high-class concubine 
who had all the fun part of being a wife while the real wife
did the druge work and produced pure born heirs.            
I'll be interested to see what de Bernieres produces on     
Drousoula.  He indicates she was expelled from Turkey as    
part of a group who were something or other racially the    
Turks in power did not like - an interesting circumstance I 
had previously been unaware of.                             
  On a further note, the understandably Russophobic Turks   
got a shock early in the century when the bass Chaliapin    
went through on tour.  First off, they thought the huge man 
in the long coat and boots was a Cossack (he wasn't), and   
then he shook 'em up considerably by warming up his voice in
a public bath.                                              

To:     SEZG73A    STEVE WARBASSE        Date:    02/20
From:   SCYV62A    TERESA HESS           Time:    11:34 AM

Steve, thanks for the "extra credit" report re: CORELLI.    
You've got me back re-reading portions of the book that I   
went through too quickly, an enjoyable journey indeed.      
Looking forward to your future posts, Teresa                

To:     TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Date:    02/20
From:   FDLX59B    MARY ANNE PAPALE      Time:     9:44 PM

How right you are. I recently read STONES FROM THE RIVER and
CORELLI'S MANDOLIN back to back, and now every book I pick  
up seems to pale by comparison.  What has happened to me? I 
seem to expect every writer to lavish me with such rich     
language and fabulous characters. It seems that these two   
authors have raised my expectations. Quick...give me        
something else that measures up to the mark!                
Mary Anne                                                   

To:     YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Date:    02/21
From:   SEZG73A    STEVE WARBASSE        Time:    10:15 AM

     You are full of wonderful anecdotes, Catherine.  Thank 
you.  I confess that I know little of modern Greek history, 
although I was aware that as in everything else Greek, the  
resistance there during World War II was not your normal    
two-sided affair but rather in inimitable Greek style       
involved four or five sides.  This book has led me to look  
into the whole subject a bit further, and it is fascinating.
                              Your pal, Steve               

To:     TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Date:    02/21
From:   SEZG73A    STEVE WARBASSE        Time:    11:12 PM

 I must admit that I owe you folks, Ann.  You know, there   
has been some talk lately among the intelligentsia to the   
effect that the genre of the novel is a moribund one here   
in the late twentieth century.  In fact not that long ago,  
I would have agreed.  I refused to read any novels written  
after the year of my birth.  Since the spring of 1993 when  
I first tuned into this group and was persuaded by the talk 
here to read Robertson Davies--against my better judgment,  
I thought at the time--I have on different occasions been   
persuaded, cajoled, brow-beaten, and sometimes intimidated  
into reading a good number of recent novels that I never    
would have otherwise.  Thank goodness for it.               
 CORELLI'S MANDOLIN is a prime example.  I lack objectivity 
right now being under the spell of the damned book with     
about eighty pages to go.  Nonetheless, let me go out on a  
limb and say that it should be included with the great      
novels that tell a fine love story against a backdrop of    
war.  I'm thinking of A FAREWELL TO ARMS, for example.  And 
. . . .well, let me say it even at the risk of resounding   
guffaws. . . .WAR AND PEACE.  It reminds me of  THE ENGLISH 
PATIENT, which I admired so much for its richness of        
description of the sensual--sights, sounds, touches, and,   
not the least, smells.  (I loved the comparison of a woman  
to a mandolin.)  Yet I think it quite superior for a reason 
that you alluded to in your recent post.  The depth and     
variety in these numerous characters is incredibly          
difficult to pull off.  It is so difficult to pull it off   
with ONE character, that is, to give that character such    
depth that he or she becomes real.  I think de Bernieres    
has done it here with a half a dozen.  That is why I think  
it can be mentioned in the same breath with WAR AND PEACE.  
 When Kokolios and Stamatis, the Communist and monarchist,  
pull down the old rifle for which they have no ammunition   
to clean it and ready themselves for the invasion of the    
Italians, one just can't help but be touched:               
"Their busy fingers sought to calm the storms of anxiety    
and speculation in their minds, and they talked in low      
voices with a mutual affection that belied their years of   
vehement ideological difference.  Neither of them knew any  
more how long their lives would be, and they had become     
precious to each other at last."                            
Such great and gentle humor, too:                           
"Aaaaaaagh," spluttered Weber, pretending to strangle       
himself.  "Where is Pelagia?  I thought she liked our       
"She does, but it's embarrassing for her to be the only     
woman in a bunch of boys.  I expect she's listening in the  
"No I'm not," she called.                                   
And such wisdom, too.  I'm not talking about de Berniere's  
own obvious erudition concerning his subject matter.  I'm   
talking about the wisdom with which he endows his Dr.       
Iannis.  The chapter entitled "Dr. Iannis Counsels his      
Daughter" is right up there with Fielding's chapter "On     
Love" in TOM JONES.  It really is.  I keep looking at de    
Berniere's picture on the dust jacket and asking, "Who IS   
this guy?"                                                  
 It is entirely possible that this novel will lapse into    
obscurity in ten years and be forgotten, but if so, it is   
will be a sad loss.  For now I must return to the book in   
the hope of getting the Germans off the island.             
     Your pal, Steve                                        

To:     SEZG73A    STEVE WARBASSE        Date:    02/24
From:   TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Time:    11:49 AM

By now you must be finished with CORELLI'S MANDOLIN. What   
did you think of the ending? It didn't seem to fit with the 
rest of the book, did it?                                   

To:     TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Date:    02/25
From:   SEZG73A    STEVE WARBASSE        Time:    11:49 AM

    Yep, Ann, I finished CORELLI'S MANDOLIN Friday and have 
been cogitating that ending ever since.  For me it was the  
only fly in the ointment of this book--not a big            
bluebottle though, just an ordinary house fly.              
Nonetheless, if you think Pelagia was upset with Corelli at 
the end, you ought to have heard me.  What a                
moron!--Corelli, not me.  I could have brained him myself,  
and I am sorry that she missed.  Of course I'm sure that he 
just got distracted, and I can understand that.  (See my    
reply to Marty of this date.)                               
     Does it fit?  Very interesting question.  How does one 
end a book like this in satisfying fashion?  de Bernieres   
painted himself into a corner with the first four-fifths of 
the book, which is soooooo great.  I guess I would have     
killed Corelli off in the war before he could return.  Then 
I would have Pelagia hallucinate about him on her death     
bed--you know, have his ghost appear.  Then I would have    
his ghost carry hers off to heaven to strains of mandolin   
music emanating spontaneously from Antonio buried under the 
old house.  The only problem with my ending is, as          
Heathcliff was forever complaining, there is no sex in      
heaven.  And that brings me to BIG unanswered question in   
the ending as it stands now.  Did they ever get to do it?   
Or were they too old?  I guess we'll never know, but as for 
me, I hope they weren't too old.                            
                         Your pal, Steve                    

To:     SEZG73A    STEVE WARBASSE        Date:    02/25
From:   WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Time:    12:48 PM

Dear Steve,                                                 
Of COURSE they weren't too old.  Anyone young enough for a  
motorcycle is young enough for THAT.  Don't you agree?      
Sherry in Milwaukee                                         

To:     SEZG73A    STEVE WARBASSE        Date:    02/25
From:   FDLX59B    MARY ANNE PAPALE      Time:     9:02 PM

I don't think they were too old to do it. There was a       
reference by Pelagia's grandson to the effect that when he  
was 17 his grandmother was acting very young indeed.  Maybe 
it's wishful thinking on my part, but the reader is left    
with the idea that Pelagia and Corelli are going to have    
some happiness in their old age.                            
Mary Anne                                                   

To:     FDLX59B    MARY ANNE PAPALE      Date:    02/25
From:   SEZG73A    STEVE WARBASSE        Time:    10:31 PM

     Okay, Mary Anne.  I think we have a consensus on that. 
 The evidence you offer, Sherry's point about the           
motorcycle, and the personal embarrassment I suffer         
sometimes as the result of the antics of my 75-year-old     
father and 74-year-old mother in my presence have put my    
mind at rest on this score.                                 
     The first four-fifths of the book is sooooo good       
though.  For example I physically jerked back while reading 
  "An officer of the Grenadiers drew his automatic pistol,  
came up behind Arsenios, and fired a single shot upwards    
through the nape of his neck, exploding his brains and the  
plates of his skull outwards through the front of his head. 
 Arsenios died in a brilliant flash of white light that he  
took to be the revelation of the face of God, and his       
emaciated and skeletal remains were flung on the pyre,      
along with the young boys whose fate he had foreseen, but   
which he had not known that he would share."                
     Whew!  Well, I will stop belaboring this book now.     
It's on to the next.  First, some quick Coetzee, then ROCKS 
FROM THE CREEK, or whatever it is.                          
                               Your pal, Steve              

To:     SEZG73A    STEVE WARBASSE        Date:    02/26
From:   TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Time:     9:21 PM

Thanks for the reply regarding the ending of  CORELLI'S     
MANDOLIN. I think we are on the same wave length there.     
Should I be worried? I too decided that it would have been a
better ending if Corelli had just died,  and I went back and
forth wondering if they were too old to have a "physically  
satisfying"  relationship.  I kept trying to calculate their
ages, but no matter how hard I tried,  I kept coming up with
the conclusion that they must be in their seventies. Such a 
waste! I mean, even if the answer was yes, think of all     
those lost years. Of course, at the age of 48, 70 seems     
pretty old, but when I was twenty I thought 48 was as good  
as dead, so I guess it's all a matter of perspective.       
 No sex in heaven, huh? I thought you got whatever you      
needed to be happy. < G> Anyway, I'm with you. The ending   
was less than satisfying, but what went before was such a   
wonderful story that I would have been willing to forgive   
the author almost anything . There was such a strong tone of
irony throughout the book, and irony seems to preclude a    
happy ending. When there wasn't one, I asked myself --well, 
what did you expect? Of course, being something of a closet 
romantic at heart, I would have preferred a less harshly    
realistic finale.                                           

To:     TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Date:    02/26
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    11:32 PM

I've been thinking about that ending, too.  Of course, as   
I've said several times, I can understand Corelli's doing   
the Italian male macho thing of I don't want her if somebody
else has had her.  I think maybe what kept him away for     
years afterward was wondering how he could explain to her   
that he had been such a fool.  Men do feel funny about such 
things - and we must remember that Corelli was a musician,  
not a lawyer.  He wasn't used to talking fast.              

To:     YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Date:    02/27
From:   SEZG73A    STEVE WARBASSE        Time:     8:44 AM

     Catherine, your remark about fast talking lawyers has  
been noted.  In SOPHIST by Plato, the Stranger makes the    
following perceptive statement:  "But the art of the        
lawyer, of the popular orator, and the art of conversation  
may be called in one word the art of persuasion."           
Therefore, in the future when you refer to lawyers, I       
wonder if you could use the phrase "art of persuasion"      
rather than "talking fast."  It has a much nicer ring,      
don't you think?                                            
     By the way I also noted your suggestion a bit ago that 
I should look back into your father's little fictional      
piece.  I assume that you were referring to BY MOONLIGHT    
MET.  That is a fine little work, and I intend to write him 
further about it.  I do want to kid him a bit though and    
need your help.  In his last letter he refers to a scene    
from Kipling where the Devil comes out from behind the Eden 
tree and says, "Its lovely, but is it Art?"  Do you have    
any idea from what work that comes?  I cannot find it for   
the life of me.                                             
     To the forty-eight-year old Ann from the               
forty-nine-year-old Steve:  So when you were twenty-one,    
you too assumed you would be dead by now?  Ponder this.     
After a like time period passes--and it has seemed such a   
short one--we will be nigh on to seventy.  I have           
considered that a good deal since seeing Studs Terkel speak 
down at Iowa City on Monday night, February 19.  He was     
promoting his new book, COMING OF AGE, which is based on    
his interviews of people now older than seventy concerning  
their personal recollections of this decade.  I can only    
say that if I could be as sharp, witty, crusty, and         
generally as delightful as he is, I wouldn't mind it at     
all.  In fact for the first time, I am considering          
dispensing with the Marlboros such that I might have some   
reasonable chance of trying it out.                         
                     Your pal, Steve                        

To:     SEZG73A    STEVE WARBASSE        Date:    02/27
From:   SEZG73A    STEVE WARBASSE        Time:     8:52 AM

     Ann, I should have said "this CENTURY" not "this       
DECADE."  Excuse me.  Perhaps a certain hardening of the    
cranial arteries is already setting in.                     
                            Your pal, Steve                 



Louis de Berniers

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