Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Culture: Literary Life after the Captain; MOVING ON De Bernieres Hopes People Will Stop Mentioning the Captain

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Culture: Literary Life after the Captain; MOVING ON De Bernieres Hopes People Will Stop Mentioning the Captain

Article excerpt

The bestselling novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin may have put Louis de Bernieres on the map but it's been difficult for the author to move on from that early success.

"I'm just waiting for the refreshing time when people don't mention Captain Corelli's Mandolin when they are interviewing me," he smiles.

As you can see, he's not quite there yet.

The 53-year-old writer took 10 years to write another novel after Corelli, which was made into a film starring Nicolas Cage.

He recalls: "After Captain Corelli I got a fit of writer's stroppiness. I felt I had the world looking over my shoulder and it was irritating.

"I was all that time working on the next novel, Birds Without Wings, but never very flat out. I finally wrote most of it in the few months when I was expecting my first child because I knew that after he was born I wouldn't get much time."

His latest novel, A Partisan's Daughter, is an unusual love story about Chris, a middle-aged salesman trapped in a loveless, sexless marriage in the 1970s, who one night invites a prostitute into his car.

Roza is Yugoslavian, recently moved to London, and the daughter of one of Tito's partisans. She proceeds to tell him tales of danger, romance and tragedy from her life. You never really know if she's telling the truth, but Chris is mesmerised anyway.

Another character in the book, Bob Dylan Upstairs, who lives in Roza's building, is modelled on de Bernieres when he was in his 20s, he reveals.

"Bob Dylan Upstairs was me in 1979. I was living in exactly that house with pretty much that woman, who used to collar me and tell me her stories. She was very fascinating and quite scary.

"I wrote all her stories down. I never really found a way of turning it into a good novel, because it was just one thing after another. …

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