- 20 Sep 18
Mandolin Man's Rambling But Rewarding Return
Daniel and Rosie are in Ceylon after the First World War but events conspire to drive them out of paradise – at Rosie’s behest, Daniel must either follow his wife, or lose his children - and back to England to live amongst her family, The McCoshs. The novel takes these variously intertwined characters – sisters, brothers, mothers, children, up to and, after interludes in an ever-darkening Germany as fascism rises, into World War 2.
If you enjoyed the rambling style of De Bernière’s Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, or his most recent work, The Dust That Falls From Dreams - the first volume of what will hopefully become a trilogy with this book as the second part - you’ll be on safe ground here. There’s no real plot as such, just life as it happens – although well-to-do types get a better look-in than the slightly clichéd Tamil lovers (Samadara), servants (a gardener and mechanic who goes with Daniel to Germany called, wait for it, Oily Wragge) and other working-class characters.
Some of Daniel’s ups and downs seem a bit dubious – it’s hard to believe what happens with his Sapphic sister in law, and even harder to credit that no one twigs it afterwards – but he’s a likeable enough sort, buffeted about by history and circumstance. Does the title refer to life after wartime, for as a renowned fighter pilot, Daniel never suspected he’d actually survive the Great War, or the life left to navigate after personal tragedy, of which he gets more than his fair share, has irrevocably muddied the waters? Is it worth carrying on? You’ll be glad that he does.