Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781328863577
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 03/06/2018
Series: Auntie Poldi Adventure Series , #1
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 79,812
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

MARIO GIORDANO, the son of Italian immigrants, was born in Munich. Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, his first novel translated into English, was an IndieNext Pick, a B&N Discover Selection, an Amazon Top Ten Best Book of the Month, and a Costco Staff Pick. He lives in Berlin.


John Brownjohn lives in Dorset in the UK. His work has won him critical acclaim and numerous awards on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Schlegel-Tieck Prize (three times), the PEN American Center's Goethe House Prize, and the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize for Marcel Beyer's The Karnau Tapes and Thomas Brussig's Heroes Like Us.

Read an Excerpt

1
Describes how and why Poldi moves to Sicily and what her sisters-in-law think of it. Unable to function without her wig and a bottle of brandy, Poldi invites everyone to a roast pork lunch, makes her nephew an offer he can’t refuse, and gets to know her neighbours in the Via Baronessa. One of them goes missing shortly afterwards.


On her sixtieth birthday my Auntie Poldi moved to Sicily, intending to drink herself comfortably to death with a sea view. That, at least, was what we were all afraid of, but something always got in the way. Sicily is complicated—you can’t simply die there; something always gets in the way. Then events speeded up, and someone was murdered, and nobody admitted to having seen or known a thing. It goes without saying that my Auntie Poldi, being the pig-headed Bavarian she was, had to take matters in hand herself and sort them out. And that was when problems arose.

My Auntie Poldi: a glamorous figure, always ready to make a dramatic entrance. She had put on a bit of weight in recent years, admittedly, and booze and depression had ploughed a few furrows in her outward appearance, but she was still an attractive woman and mentally tip-top—most of the time, at least. Stylish, anyway. When Madonna’s Music came out, Poldi was the first woman in Westermühlstrasse to wear a white Stetson. One of my earliest childhood memories is of her and Uncle Peppe sitting on my parents’ patio in Neufahrn, Poldi in a bright orange trouser suit, beer in one hand, cigarette in the other, and everyone joining in the laughter she seemed to generate with her entire body, which erupted from her in inexhaustible gusts of mirth—interspersed with the smutty jokes and expletives that made me the star attraction of the school playground when I passed them on the next day.

Isolde and Giuseppe had met at a Munich television studio, where Poldi worked as a costume designer and Peppe was a tailor, an occupation which, for want of any other talent or aspiration, he had inherited from his tyrannical and hypochondriacal father, in other words my grandfather, who had likewise lacked any talents or aspirations—quite unlike his father, my great-grandfather Barnaba, that is, who, without being able to speak a word of German, had emigrated in the 1920s to Munich, where he set up a lucrative wholesale fruit business and became a wealthy man. But I digress.

Poldi and my Uncle Peppe had shared a grand passion, but alas, a few things went badly wrong. Two miscarriages, booze, my uncle’s womanizing, divorce from my uncle, my uncle’s illness, my uncle’s death, the whole issue of the plot of land in Tanzania and sundry other unpleasant twists and turns, setbacks and upheavals of life had stricken my aunt with depression. But she continued to laugh, love and drink a lot, and she didn’t simply take things lying down when they went against the grain. Which they always did.

Poldi had enjoyed being a costume designer, but in recent years she had more and more often lost jobs to younger colleagues. Television work had become scarcer, times harder, and Poldi had gradually fallen out of love with her profession. Stupidly enough, the disastrous venture in Tanzania had robbed her of almost all her savings. But then her parents died in quick succession and left her their little house on the outskirts of Augsburg. And because my Auntie Poldi had always hated the house and everything to do with it, nothing could have been more logical than to sell it and take herself off, together with the rest of her savings and her small pension, and fulfil one of her dearest wishes: to die with a sea view. And family for company.

The family in Sicily naturally suspected that Poldi meant to hasten her demise with a glass or two, given her depressive tendencies, and felt that this must be combated on every level and by all available means. When I say “family” I’m referring principally to my three aunts, Teresa, Caterina and Luisa, and my Uncle Martino, Teresa’s husband. Aunt Teresa, who calls the shots in our family, tried to persuade Poldi to move in with them at Catania, if only for social reasons.

“Don’t be daft, Poldi,” Teresa lamented in her best Munich dialect, “why would you want to live out there, all on your lonesome? Move in near us, then you’d always have someone to chew the fat and play cards with and you can do everything on foot. Theatre, cinemas, supermarket and hospital—everything’s practically on the doorstep. We’ve even got a few good-looking policemen, too.”

Not a chance, though. Poldi’s private agreement with her melancholia stipulated a sea view, and a sea view was what she got, together with a breathtaking panorama from her roof terrace. The sea straight ahead and Etna behind—what more would anyone want? The only snag: with her bad knee, Poldi could hardly make it up the stairs to the roof.

A sleepy, friendly little town on the east coast of Sicily midway between Catania and Taormina, Torre Archirafi is unsuited to any form of tourist exploitation, gentrification or vandalism because of its coastline, which consists of massive, jagged volcanic cliffs. Or so one would think, anyway. This doesn’t, in fact, deter the inhabitants from dumping their rubbish on the beach, making life as difficult for each other as possible, and, in the summer, shoehorning timber platforms and snack bars into the gaps between the cliffs. On weekends families and young people from Catania throng there to sunbathe, eat, read paperbacks, squabble, eat, listen to the radio, eat and flirt, forever bombarded by the thump of indeterminate bass rhythms and dazed by a miasma of coconut oil, frying fat and fatalism. And, in the midst of it all, my Auntie Poldi. She liked the place, I’ve never known why.

Winters in Torre, on the other hand, are dank. A sea the colour of lead snarls at the projecting breakwaters as if intent on swallowing the whole town, and its moist, salty breath adorns every ceiling with black efflorescences of mildew. Air conditioning and feeble central heating systems don’t stand a chance. My Auntie Poldi had to have the whole house whitewashed the very first April after she moved into the Via Baronessa, and again every year thereafter. Winters in Torre aren’t much fun, but at least they’re short.

For shopping one drives to nearby Riposto, or, better still, straight to the HiperSimply supermarket, where everything’s on tap. All Torre itself has to offer is Signor Bussacca’s little tabacchi for basic necessities, the Bar-Gelateria Cocuzza presided over by the sad signora, and a restaurant even the local cats steer clear of. Torre Archirafi does, however, boast a mineral-water spring, and although the bottling plant down by the harbour was closed in the seventies, Acqua di Torre still means something to my aunts. Protruding from the side of the old building is a row of brass taps from which the inhabitants of Torre can still draw their own mineral water free of charge.

“What does it taste like?” I asked politely, the first time Poldi enthused about the public mineral water supply as though speaking of a chocolate fountain.

“Frightful, of course; what do you expect? Still, local patriotism makes folk thirsty.”
 
 

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Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Danii17 More than 1 year ago
Auntie Poldi is a whirlwind of a book that includes intrigue and just good ole mystery-solving fun. I really liked Auntie Poldi, she's great fun and can really lead a book. My biggest problem with this book was how much work it took for me to read this book. In part I simply blame my age and lack of knowledge about Italy, there were words and places mentioned that I felt that I had to constantly be looking up in order to understand the story. The writing itself as well was rather difficult, I can't quite place exactly what it was, but I had to keep re-focusing to keep going. I definitely feel like I learned quite a bit from this book and I did like the plot of this book. It's full of murderous and mysterious fun, always led with an airof grace that I could never attain.
Dmaxtownsend 16 days ago
60-year-old Auntie Poldi, has retired to Sicily to drink herself to death with an ocean view. What she does, however, is anything but retiring. Narrated by her young nephew, a struggling writer who struggles with writing Chapter 1 of his own opus, we are treated to Poldi’s world as she ferrets out the killer of a local young man. This is a delightful, engaging tale in a lovely, off-the-beaten path setting of rural Sicily, a charming mix of family, new friends, the Mafia (which of course does not exist) and a hunky older detective who sends mixed signals. Poldi quickly abandons her plan to drink away her life and engages with life of the island and her new love of solving mysteries. The mystery itself is complex and well drawn, but the lure of this book is Auntie Poldi, who is at times her sexy bewigged self, or her nephew’s guiding voice, or the leader of a posse of relatives and fierce defender of what is right. I love this quirky character and am thrilled a sequel is in the works. Looking forward to more adventures with Poldi!
rendezvous_with_reading 24 days ago
Auntie Poldi is Bavarian by birth, but when she turns 60, she decides to move to Sicily, the land of her late husband's family. All she wants is a home with a sea view, where she can comfortably drink herself to death. But when Poldi's young handyman disappears and later turns up murdered, she finds new purpose in discovering his killer. Poldi, a former costume designer, who dresses quite glamorously and wears a wig, soon catches the eye of detective chief inspector Vito Montana. Poldi is brave, independent and relentless in finding the killer, and soon she is giving Vito tips for his investigation and flirting outrageously. The story is narrated by Poldi's nephew, who visits from Germany to work on his novel while living in her attic; an arrangement that satisfies Poldi's Italian relatives who worry about her drinking too much and want someone to keep an eye on her. But Auntie Poldi is a handful! Imagine a German Agatha Christie with the zest of Phryne Fisher.
143264 29 days ago
What a fun book! A detective novel with clever humor and enough local color to make the setting (Sicily) part of the story. You can tell that the translation was done well as some of the more complicated phrases flow easily into English. If you like European mysteries this is a welcome new addition to the genre.
KRamjohn 8 months ago
This is the story of Auntie Poldie, a quirky costume designer who moves to Sicily after retirement on her 60th birthday intending to while away the rest of her days with good wine, a view of the sea, and few visitors. However the murder of her handyman put a dent in those plans and we now have a murder mystery on our hands which revolves around the characters and the place. Although a murder mystery the story was a light-hearted comical tale that will have you interested to learn more. The main characters although eccentric was head-strong and feisty and turns out to be quite a thorn in the side of the detective who got the case. We are introduced to a host of other characters throughout the story and learn quite a bit about the Sicilian culture food and landscape. I enjoyed this novel.
WeezieL 9 months ago
Won Paperback ARC from BookishFirst.com. I wasn't crazy about Auntie Poldi. I found her a little annoying. Also, I didn't like the format of the story. Poldi is telling her nephew the whole story but it's in first person with the NEPHEW being the narrator. Why??? For what purpose? I know he's writing a family history but I just didn't like this format. I got about halfway through before I started skimming. At first I thought the little synopses at the beginnings of the chapters were silly but then I liked them as I started to skim instead of straight reading. Sorry Poldi! I liked the ending an I liked Montana and Poldi and Montana's relationship. He was so stiff and she brought the fun out in him. I don't think I'll be continuing this series.
Cat Wyatt 11 months ago
Auntie Poldi is exactly the story of casual mystery I’m looking for when I need to read a book and unwind. It’s about a stubborn middle aged Bavarian woman who refuses to let anybody scare her away from finding the truth. It actually reminds me quite a lot of the sort of TV series I used to watch with my mom when I was growing up, so it’s really no surprise that I wanted to give this series a try. First things first, the writing style for Auntie Poldi is a bit on the odd side. It is being written as if it was being penned by Poldi’s nephew (hence the title). It can be a little off-putting at times, and it frequently breaks the immersion. However, it does fight with the lighter fluffier tone of the series, and helps to separate the readers from the tragedy that occurs (this is a murder mystery, after all). Aunt Poldi is a woman with spunk and tenacity, and her character does wonders to show that there are multiple levels of depression a person can face. Months ago Poldi had been content to slowly drink herself to death (after the loss of her husband), but now that she’s got a task to keep her mind going, she’s suddenly got something to live for. Like a dog with a bone, she won’t give up the chase, even when it calls for her to give up alcohol (well, mostly, and only so she can think clearly during ‘her case’). The fact that the murder caused an attractive hulk of a police officer to pay attention to her probably didn’t hurt either. This story has a lot of quirks and personality to it. In a way it’s more of a character study than a murder mystery. It frequently takes a long time to get to the point, and it is very fond of excessive details and character back-stories and interactions. Still, it was a relaxing read, which is exactly what I was hoping to find in it. As for the mystery itself, it’s a relatively predictable story, the final twists and turns being more or less what one would expect. In a way I was actually okay with that, since it allowed me to continue relaxing while I was reading. This isn’t a groundbreaking story by any means, but it is perfect for a casual or comforting read. If you’re looking for a beach read full of personality, then I’d suggest taking a look at this one. It may just be worth your time.
Kamisha More than 1 year ago
Fun, cozy Sicilian mystery! This is a fun story about the lovable, vivacious Auntie Poldi and her adventures in Sicily. Poldi has recently relocated to Sicily in the hopes of living out the rest of her life in drunken bliss. Despite her attempts to relax into retired bliss, Poldi soon finds herself in the midst of a missing persons turned murder case and, being the ever inquisitive individual that she is, she beings her own amateur investigation. So ensues a story full of hijinks and daring, and always a little mystery. The story is written from the point of view of Poldi's nephew, a writer who is relating Poldi's story to us as he ostensibly works on his own novel. Through his eyes we see the character of Poldi as she truly is, unapologetically genuine. I loved this character with all of her sassiness and bravado! Poldi is always curious and always concocting her own schemes. This ended up being a really fun story to bring myself into a warmer weather mindset. I also really enjoyed the setting of this book. Throughout the book Sicily and the local Sicilians around Poldi play a huge part in this story and this book really makes you feel like you have escaped to Italy. I just wanted to hang out in an almond grove sipping drinks and gossiping with Poldi by the end of it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story would have been great except for the point of view used when told. Auntie Poldi is a wonderful character with a lot of nuance. The story was exceptional, but absolutely despised the point of view.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story would have been great except for the point of view used when told. Auntie Poldi is a wonderful character with a lot of nuance. The story was exceptional, but absolutely despised the point of view.
KateOlson More than 1 year ago
Traveling to Sicily with Auntie Poldi was a DELIGHT! This is a story in a familiar genre ~ woman of a certain age solves a murder while engaging in hijinks along the way ~ set in a delicious location with a very welcome European flair. Given that Poldie is actually German, she learns about the region’s customs and quirks alongside us non-Sicilians, making this a great cultural experience for me. I believe it’s my first book that I’ve ever read set entirely in Sicily and it was just the warmth I needed during this Wisconsin winter dreariness! • This was a slower read for me, given some of the language and translation barriers, but that just let me savor the experience longer and really immerse myself in the setting. I believe this is the first in a new series and I will definitely looking for further books about Auntie Poldi ❤️ • Thanks to BookishFirst and @hmhbooks for this review copy! This is available on shelves now Edit Delete
gelm More than 1 year ago
It Could Have Been A Lot Better Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions is complex. Poldi's aspiring author nephew is telling the story. He tells the story to us as Poldi told it to him. (I forget what point of view this is called). Unfortunately, at times this point of view makes the story confusing. Sometimes I did not know who was speaking or when the story was taking place. Perhaps this is because this book was translated from another language? Poldi reminds me a bit of Ove from the book A Man Called Ove in that she is older (over 60), eccentric, and is a bit suicidal at times. Otherwise, this book did not remind me of Ove. It took me longer than usual to get through this book than other books perhaps because the story ebbed and flowed as Poldi discovered evidence in the case. All in all, it was an okay read.
judgie39 More than 1 year ago
Humorous and witty, Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions does not disappoint. The story begins with the title character, Auntie Poldi, moving to Sicily, so she can die by the sea while drinking wine. This would make sense if Auntie Poldi were: A. sickly or B. elderly. But she is neither. Poldi is healthy, with a sharp mind and an outgoing personality. She charms everyone she meets with her larger-than-life personality and theatrics. When Poldi discovers a dead body on the beach, she springs into action to solve the murder. Along the way she makes new friends and enemies, while learning about the island and it's people. Rich with detail and Sicilian history and culture, Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, is a charming mystery, with vivid characters that are unforgettable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to read this since it just sounded so good but something was lost in translation for me along the way. I thought this was going to be an edge of your seat mystery, but it was not. There was no tension or buildup everything just happened and there was no surprise. The characters were just all so drab and there were a lot of words and phrases in Italian that was annoying and didn't add a whole lot to the story. I also did not like the way the story was narrated, it was a third person telling the story but at times it seemed like it was first person which was confusing on why the author did it that way. I think it would have been more effective if the story was told first person, it just seemed like a mess. At the end of the story it definitely left the door open for a sequel but I would not pick that one up since this one seemed like it was never going to end. The only good thing about this book is the cover which I really liked.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
won this book from Bookish and was very excited. I love the location it was set in and imagined spending time there. That being said, I was disappointed in the book. I felt confused during most of it and had to reread a few pages to determine what was going on and who was speaking. To be honest, this was a DNF book. I read about 2/3 of it and stopped. I can't say I would recommend this book to any one. Recommending books to others is exciting for me and I have many friends that love my recommendations. I didn't hate the book I was truly bored and confused. I hope others find it easier to understand than I. I wish the author good luck on future writings, I know they will do well. Thank
Carolefort More than 1 year ago
Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for providing an e-galley of Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano in exchange for an honest review. This mystery is narrated by the nephew of Auntie Poldi, a sixty-year-old retiree from Munich who has decided that Sicily will be ideal for her quiet, alcohol-imbued retirement. However, life changes unexpectedly when her handyman is murdered and our heroine becomes an amateur sleuth. Her meddling ways cause problems for the police officer charged with the investigation. And she also makes a nuisance of herself with the individuals that she suspects of the murder. This mystery flows well and is often quite amusing. A most enjoyable read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fans of Andrea Camilleri and Donna Leon may well enjoy this mystery featuring a woman of a "certain age" who moves to Sicily. Enjoy the setting, the views and watch what happens to Auntie Poldi as she gets involved in solving a mystery. The book is narrated by Poldi's nephew who is an aspiring author. Each chapter begins with an italicized summary. This book was not compelling but was a fine read.
MonnieR More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars, actually. If you're looking for what I'd describe as a cute, almost-cozy murder mystery with some quirky characters, you might want to give this one a try. Where else will you find a borderline elderly retired costume designer with a nose for adventure who's moved to Sicily for the sole purpose - at least initially - of drinking herself to death? Meet Auntie Poldi, officially Isolde Oberreider. Despite her penchant for wearing askew wigs, she considers herself to be attractive to the opposite sex and moved to a new country after her husband died - finding a rather unkempt house overlooking the sea not far from her sisters. Narrating the whole thing is Poldi's nephew, a would-be writer in the throes of writer's block who's hoping, I suppose, that documenting his aunt's adventures will kick-start his creative juices. And find adventure she does. After a young man to whom she took a fancy turns up dead on a beach, she turns into an almost frenzied amateur investigator (much to the dismay of local authorities, in particular hunky detective Vito Montana). Once she gets going, a missing sculptured lion comes into play as she tries to connect the dots to a wealthy landowner she suspects may be up to nefarious activities. Her adventures and attempts at solving the murder are documented in fine fashion - sometimes with a bit of humor - right up to the end. Admittedly, while I do love headstrong women, she proved to lean a little more in that direction than I'd like to meet in person; still, there's no getting around the appeal of her rather off-the-wall character. The ending suggests that more installments will come in the future (and notably, this is the author's first book to be translated into English). In the interests of full disclosure, I won an advance copy of this book (in paperback format) at Bookish First in exchange for an honest review.
conni7 More than 1 year ago
I struggled a bit in the beginning with the various characters and the occasional Italian word that I had to look up because I didn’t know what it meant. Overall, this was an interesting book. The author definitely takes a good bit of time with Poldi’s character development, and I got a real feel for what she was like. The other characters, Poldi’s sisters-in-law, one of their husbands, a few men Poldi meets during her investigation and even people who rarely show up up, but are introduced have some details of their personalities mentioned, so you get a bit of a feel for all of them. The author also paints a vivid word picture of Sicily. There were some very amusing moments and a few times that I would cringe at Poldi’s excesses; however, Poldi was full of excess and was quite an eccentric character. The murder mystery was well done with bits and pieces coming to light, and Poldi's desire to solve the crime before the handsome Vito Montana could added an interesting element to the story. I enjoyed the book, and would give it 3.5 stars .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it