Thu. Feb 25th, 2021

Book review: Louis de Bernières’ new novel tells story of a remarkable family

‘The Autumn of the Ace’, from the pen of the ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ author, captivates in every way.

book review louis de bernieres new novel tells story of a remarkable family - Book review: Louis de Bernières’ new novel tells story of a remarkable family

The English author of international bestselling novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin has earned his place in the literary world and become a master of historical fiction. Louis de Bernières’ books have been translated into more than 30 languages and some of his short stories have been adapted for the silver screen.

His work has garnered praise from critics and readers a like. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book, as well as being shortlisted for the 1994 Sunday Express Book of the Year.

New book is final one in Daniel Pitt trilogy

De Bernières’ impressive literary career includes works such as Of Love and Desire, as well as Birds without Wings. His latest work, The Autumn of the Ace, is the final book in his Daniel Pitt trilogy.

The first two books in this trilogy, The Dust that Falls from Dreams and So Much Left Over, were well received by readers world wide, who have been eagerly awaiting the final instalment.

De Bernières’ work is described by Penguin Books Australia as:

“[traversing] the globe, and [embracing] 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 […]”

Being both heart-warming and heart-wrenching, this novel will captivate the senses and make you laugh as well as cry.

Rich characters in ‘The Autumn of the Ace’

Brimming with incredible, quirky characters and beautiful, lyrical writing, The Autumn of the Ace is the ideal book for lovers of historical fiction.

One of De Bernières’ greatest gifts as a writer is the richly fleshed out characters he creates. His latest work has no shortage of such colourful characters. They seem to come alive before your eyes and you feel as though you have known them for years.

Because this book is very character-driven and focussed on inner lives, emotion and memory, it might not be the best choice for readers who enjoy a fast and action-packed tale.

Story of a family trying to rebuild itself

Set in the aftermath of two world wars, this novel places itself outside of the action and takes a retrospective approach. It focusses instead on the quiet that comes after the major event of battle, in which a family tries to rebuild itself.

It is a sensitive and intimate portrayal of trauma, love and relationships as a band of slightly odd family members try to heal.

‘Autumn of the Ace’: Memorable quotes

“He also got a broken heart because his daughter Esther was sunk, torpepoed and gone down in five minutes flat. I’d say it took him a good five years to get his smile back, because no amount of medals and stripes and derring-do ever makes up for something like that.”

“In any event, their band of bohemian […] brothers and sisters, who ‘lived in squares, painted in circles, and loved in triangles’, was steadily being whittled away.”

“‘Well,’ said Felicity, ‘if I’ve learned one thing from you it’s that if you’re going to do something, you’ve got to plunge in and do it thoroughly. Then if it’s a disaster, you’ve done your best, and you don’t have yourself to blame.’”

“Now she lived not for the love she might receive, but for the love she might give. Bertie was not a responsive soul, but Kate was. She was full of life, laughter and uncomplicated affection.”

‘Autumn of the Ace’: Synopsis

Daniel Pitt was an RAF fighter in World War One and an espionage agent for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in World War Two. Now that the fighting has ceased, the conflicts he now has to face are closer to home.

Daniel’s marriage is in tatters and his relationship with his son, Bertie, has been a failure ever since Bertie was a small boy. After his brother dies, Daniel is keen for fresh perspectives and a new way of life.

He first travels to Peshawar in Pakistan to bury his brother in the place he loved best. After the burial, he flees to Canada, avoiding his family and friends back in England.

But some bonds are hard to break…

Daniel and his son’s different experiences of war, though devastating, bring the opportunity for father and son to reconnect. If only they can find a way to move on from the past.

De Bernieres’ latest novel is a moving account of an extraordinary life in extraordinary times.

Daniel is a flawed but captivating hero; a human with faults and regrets. This coming-of-old-age story illuminates both the effect of not one but two world wars on a generation, and the irrepressible spirit and love that can connect a broken family despite great obstacles.

More about Louis de Bernières

14dac211 louisedebfacebook - Book review: Louis de Bernières’ new novel tells story of a remarkable family
Louis de Bernières did numerous jobs before becoming a full-time writer. Image via Facebook @LouisdeBernieresAuthor

Louis de Bernières was born in 1954 in London. At 18 he joined the army, but left after spending four months at Sandhurst. After graduating from Victoria University, he completed a postgraduate certificate in education at Leicester Polytechnic. He eventually went on to obtain his MA at the University of London.

Before becoming a full-time writer, De Bernières held many different odd jobs including landscape gardener, motorcycle messenger and car mechanic.

He also taught English in Colombia in South America, an experience which would inspire the style and setting of 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).

De Bernières is a keen music lover and an avid musician. He plays several instruments including the flute, mandolin, clarinet and guitar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *