I’m a terrible one for judging a book by its cover. And I mean that literally, not metaphorically – I’m not at all judgemental or presumptuous when it comes to people: just books. Which is why, shamefully, it has taken me so long to come around to reading Captain Corelli’s Mandolin; I shouldn’t admit this, as someone who has both an honours degree and a master’s degree in English, but if a book’s title sounds too complicated, or indicates that the story might be about a subject I have no interest in, I shelve it. (Again, literally, not metaphorically.)
Let me hide behind my hands and, peeping through splayed fingers, take you through the exact thought process I had when I saw the title of my latest book-love, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
It’s about a captain, which means it’ll be about boats and I don’t really like boats, or stories about boats.
Oh God, he has a mandolin, which is either the razor-sharp kitchen instrument, in which case this could be a long slog, or the little guitar thing, in which case this could be…a long slog.
The fact that the mandolin is important enough to be titular worries me: will there be numerous, long-winded references to musical works I’ve never heard of" Will there be flowery, extended descriptions of the instrument itself" I’d rather hear about the vegetable slicer to be perfectly honest.
But I should really read this book, because it’s a classic and everyone says how amazing it is and also the main reading at my own wedding was an extract from it. So, you know, I need to tick it off.
BUT WHAT IF IT’S ABOUT BOATS"
As it turned out, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was nothing about boats, or vegetable slicers: a couple of chapters in, after a doctor on an idyllic Greek island had removed an ancient dried pea from a man’s earhole and a giant strongman had picked up (with ease!) a priest and a donkey and also fired a...