Six of the best from a master craftsman.
You may know Louis de Bernières via his unforgettable, Commonwealth Writers’ Prize-winning Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Or maybe it was another of his epic stories of love and war – 2016’s The Dust that Falls from Dreams, or 2004’s Birds without Wings – that alerted you to his talents. Maybe you stumbled across the author through the screen adaptation of his short stories of a charismatic sheepdog, Red Dog, or its prequel, Blue Dog. Then there’s his poetry collections…
His work traverses the globe, and embraces concepts of love, death, destiny and loyalty; the struggle between good and evil, frailty and youth, tragedy and comedy. Through his many protagonists, readers are invited to explore how we connect with one another – cutting to the heart of what it is to be human.
However you arrive at Louis de Bernières, it’s unlikely you’ll leave unchanged. Here we shine a light on just six of the career highlights of this remarkable writer.
The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts (1990)
In de Bernières’ first published novel (and the first book of his Latin American Trilogy) the spoilt and haughty Dona Constanza tries to divert a river to fill her swimming pool, starting a running battle with the locals. Soldiers are sent to take back control, and the villagers soon realise that they must head for the mountains and start a new and convivial civilisation.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (1994)
A young Italian officer is posted to the Greek island of Cephalonia as part of the occupying forces. At first he is ostracised by the locals, but as a far from fanatical soldier, whose main aim is to have a peaceful war, he proves in time to be civilised, humorous – and a consummate musician. But as the bestial savagery of war gets closer, the lines are drawn between invader and defender.
Birds without Wings (2004)
Set against the backdrop of the collapsing Ottoman Empire, the Gallipoli campaign and the subsequent bitter struggle between Greeks and Turks, Birds without Wings traces the fortunes of one small community in south-west Anatolia. Epic in sweep, and intoxicating in its sensual detail, de Bernières’ masterpiece examines the personal and political costs of war, and love: between men and women; between friends; between those who are driven to be enemies; and between Philothei, a Christian girl of legendary beauty, and Ibrahim the Goatherd, who has courted her since infancy.
Imagining Alexandria (2013)
Poetry was Louis de Bernières’ first literary love and Imagining Alexandria was his debut poetry collection. Owing much to the influence of the great Alexandrian poet Constantine Cavafy, this is a collection rich in sensuality, nostalgia, and music.
The Dust that Falls from Dreams (2015)
Rosie McCosh and her three very different sisters live in an eccentric household in Kent, with their neighbours the Pitt boys on one side and the Pendennis boys on the other. But their days of childhood adventure are shadowed by the approach of the conflict that will engulf them on the cusp of adulthood. The Dust that Falls from Dreams is an epic story of love and war, and of England in the first half of the twentieth century.
Blue Dog (2016)
In this charming prequel to the much-loved Red Dog, de Bernières tells the moving story of a young boy and his Granpa in outback Australia, and the charismatic and entertaining dog who so many readers hold close to their hearts.