Louis de Bernières

We live in the middle of the countryside, but I can easily get to the local cinema or the theatre. Our fish is straight out of the sea, and you can buy locally grown vegetables. Let me tell you, there is nothing nicer to eat than a freshly dug potato. -- Louis de Bernières

Writer Louis de Bernières (1954- ) grew up in Surrey, his name is from a French Huguenot ancestor. He is best known for his fourth novel, Captain Corelli's Mandolin (1994), for which he was awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book. A Partisan's Daughter (2008) was shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Novel Award. He also performs with the Antonius Players.

Louis de Bernières grew up in Surrey, his surname being inherited from a French Huguenot forefather. He was educated at Bradfield College and joined the army when he was 18, but left after four months of service at Sandhurst. He attended the Victoria University of Manchester and the Institute of Education, University of London. Before he began to write full-time he held a wide variety of jobs, including being a mechanic, a motorcycle messenger and an English teacher in Colombia. He now lives near Bungay in Suffolk with his partner and two children.

Drawing upon his experience in Colombia and strongly influenced by Gabriel García Márquez, he wrote his first three novels, The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts (1990), Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord (1991) and The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman (1992), the Latin American trilogy.

His fourth novel, Captain Corelli's Mandolin (1994), set on the Greek island of Cephallonia during the Italian occupation of WWII, achieved literary and commercial success. The novel was turned into a not very successful film, even the author did not like what was done to his book. The novel has brought mass market tourism to the island and despoiled it.

I was very displeased to see that a bar in Agia Efimia has abandoned its perfectly good Greek name and renamed itself Captain Corelli's, and I dread the idea that sooner or later there might be Captain Corelli Tours, or Pelagia Apartments.

Other books include, Red Dog (2002), Birds Without Wings (2004) and A Partisan's Daughter (2008).

A Partisan's Daughter is the story of a chance encounter between an Englishman and a very sexually attractive Yugoslav girl much younger than the man. He attempts to pick her up, mistakenly believing her to be a prostitute. She invites him back to her house and she keeps him entertained with tales of her past life, though he enjoys her tales, he is more interested in getting her into bed and enjoying her body. The story has a very sad and tragic ending. [see BCID 7027100]

Louis de Bernières writes in a shed in the bottom of his garden. A Partisan's Daughter nearly did not see the light of day, when after completion of the first fifty pages his computer was stolen. It was recovered from a ditch not far away, but it was not until four months later when the police though to examine the contents of the computer that author and manuscript were reunited.

My shed was broken into and my computer stolen. On it were the first 50 pages. Eventually, it turned up in a ditch near Bungay [a nearby town], but I didn’t get it back for four months. I had contacted Norfolk police and it had been handed in to Suffolk police. It was only returned because someone had the bright idea of turning it on, and found the opening chapters.

A Partisan's Daughter was shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Novel Award.

When he is not writing, Louis de Bernières enjoys gardening and repairing old cars. He is is a member of the Antonius Players and plays the flute, mandolin, clarinet and guitar.

Louis de Bernières lives in a Georgian rectory deep in the Suffolk countryside. He writes in a shed in the garden.

The Antonius Players originally started life as a flute trio. They have since been joined by Louis de Bernières . They perform a mix of music and poetry.

(c) Keith Parkins 2009 -- March 2009 rev 0