MORE THAN ONE STRING TO HIS MANDOLIN
Louis de Bernières always knows which novel people are talking about when they tell him: “I’ve read your book.” He says he’s written more than fifteen, but Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is the one people focus on.
He novels, poetry collections, short stories and children’s fiction under his belt, won a Costa Novel Award and a clutch of Commonwealth Writers Prizes. But whatever he does, Corelli is his defining work.
He is grateful for what the novel has given him and has fond memories of socialising with Penelope Cruz and John Hurt while the film was being shot, he tells Martina Devlin in the latest City of Books podcast.
The Norfolk-based author sets his books in exotic destinations, from Pakistan to Turkey to Canada to Australia and, of course Greece – but has never located a novel in Ireland although he seizes any opportunity to visit.
There are too many excellent Irish writers, he says, and he’s not convinced he could add anything to the body of literature. He mentions Donal Ryan as one he particularly enjoys.
His latest book, recently published, is the third in a trilogy, The Autumn of the Ace, which describes the life of World War One flying hero Daniel Pitts. It follows The Dust that Falls from Dreams and So Much Life Left Over.
The trilogy is created from his interpretation of what happened to his grandparents’ lives. His grandmother’s fiancée was killed in action in 1918 and she married another local boy, his grandfather – but never recovered from the loss of her first love.
The couple separated and Louis’s father always felt abandoned by his dad. But Louis decided it was time to track down his grandfather’s version of events – and the trilogy ensued.
For more on The Autumn of the Ace (published by Harvill Secker): https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/111/1117235/the-autumn-of-the-ace/9781787301337.html
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