Auntie Poldi and the Fruits of the Lord by Mario Giordano
Translated from the German by John Brownjohn
I was delighted to encounter the first Auntie Poldi book last year. The adventures of an irrepressible sixty-year-old German lady who retires to her late ex-husband’s ancestral home in Sicily, hoping to “fulfil one of her dearest wishes: to die with a sea view. And family for company,” were a sheer delight, and being published in January, were a true antidote to the dour winter weather. A few weeks ago, the second Auntie Poldi mystery was published and I devoured it too.
Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions (which I reviewed for Shiny here ), introduced us to Poldi as she makes her home in Sicily, makes new friends, finds a lover, rubs a few people up the wrong way, and takes the law into her own hands helping to solve the murder of her handyman – Miss Marple she ain’t! The book was such fun, The second in the series is more of the same. You’ll probably want to read the first book first to see how she first encounters all the recurring characters in the second installment. There is a continuing story arc in the background with her relationship with the lovely Commissario Montana, and determination to get the better of Russo, the local capo, although she never proves this.
Once again, the novel’s framing device has Poldi telling her story to her nephew who then relays the story to us. He visits monthly from Germany to keep his aunt in check, and to keep her out of her frequent depressions. The nephew is a wannabe writer, and he is ostensibly visiting to get his book written – although suffering from writer’s block:
I don’t know how it is with other authors, but whenever I open my laptop and look at my mess of a draft, I’m overcome with leaden inertia, paralysing fatigue, and a sort of ominous malaise. It’s as if I’ve opened Pandora’s box and am already experiencing the preliminary symptoms of the plague. It’s like a general anaesthetic: you’re still wondering what’s happening when you wake up and your appendix is out. Except that your novel is just as unfinished and messy as it ever was. Nineteenth century novelists never suffered from writer’s block. Take Balzac, for example. He would complete a draft with a final full stop and embark on another novel right away. I, on the other hand, am a walking writer’s block, a child f the twenty-first century.
Poldi’s nephew, is sure his novel will be the best thing ever – and later finds his block has been freed. Consequently, he writes several chapters of terrible hackneyed prose – of which a snippet would have been more than enough – but Giordano has some fun with us and we get the full synopsis. The nephew totally ignores Poldi’s suggestion that he should write her adventures – I was beginning to find him rather irritating,, but for his love for his aunt.
The plot this time involves a murder in a vineyard, plots to own water rights, misappropriation of political funds and much more as Poldi blunders her way through trailed by her erstwhile lover the police Commissario, Vito Montana, and the course of love gets rather complicated.
All the while the volcano, Etna, is gently rumbling away in the background, the threat of its potential eruption adding to the carpe diem feel of all the residents. Knowing all the main characters, this time, Auntie Poldi’s adventures were still great fun, with some great twists and turns, and an hilarious ending, which means that I’m dying to know what happens to Poldi and Montana next time… (8/10)
Source: Review copy – thank you.
Mario Giordano, tr John Brownjohn, Auntie Poldi and the Fruits of the Lord (John Murray, 2018), hardback, 336 pages.
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