Friday, 14 February 2014

Sicilian Sunshine

Bothersome bad backache this week has meant plenty of comforting baths, bed and books. These days I will admit, a little more readily than I used to, that sometimes it is better just to stop and rest if I can. I’d picked up a heap of books in preparation for next week’s half term break, but I am well through the pile already.


Having greatly enjoyed the TV series, I went for a stack of Andrea Camilleri’s “Montalbano” Sicilian detective novels. Both Bob and I have remembered the episodes as we’ve read the books. But as is often the case, the books have a little more detail, and extra plot twists which do not always translate well to the small screen.

commissarp montelbano

If you liked the TV programmes, I think you will not be disappointed by the books. They capture the flavours of the island beautifully. Especially the food! Eating is a key ingredient of Salvo’s detection method, so there’s an awful lot of Sicilian cuisine to digest [no apologies for all the puns there] In the midst of the stormy weather here, I have escaped to a world of sunny, sandy beaches, al fresco meals, and warm olive groves.

Camilleri is one of Italy’s most famous contemporary writers, and Montalbano has been translated into nine languages. The English translation is by Stephen Sartarelli – who includes some helpful notes at the end of each volume, particularly regarding local slang, political asides, and the names of foodstuffs.

montelbano cast

montelbano liviaThe descriptions of his colleagues – Fazio, Augello and the wonderfully Malaprop-like Catarella are brilliant. As you read, you realise how accurate the TV depictions were. The two key women in his life, Livia and Ingrid are well written too…montalbano ingrid 

For sheer escapism, these have been a really good read. I believe there are 8 more in the series – I must check out the library again before the weekend. [My remaining library book is another Jo Nesbo Harry Hole thriller. Not sure I can cope right now with more cold dark Scandi-drama!] I give Montalbano ***** for clever plot twists, great atmosphere and intelligent description.

The weather outside is truly frightful – although nothing like as bad as many of you are experiencing. My thoughts and prayers are with all those whose homes are flooded and/or livelihoods threatened.


  1. I thought I'd give Ian Rankin a go, though not entirely into crime fiction. I found him rather sonorous I have to admit, even with the inclusion of many parts of Edinburgh that I recognised. I gave up after just 7 pages! Montalbano is much more enticing, especially since I have affiliations with Sicily and lots of fond memories of living there. I can particularly vouch for the food! I agree with you about the dark and dismal Scandi-drama.

  2. So sorry you have a bad back. Try to get some rest in half term.

  3. I hope you are soon feeling better and without back ache
    I fancied the tv series you mention but I think when I switched on it was sub titles , I'm partially sighted and could not read it quick enough .
    Wonder if they do the books in large print . I'm making note of the author.

    1. Yes, our county library service has five of his titles in large print- and The Patience of The Spider is in YOUR local branch at the minute according to their online catalogue!!

  4. Hope the back feels better soon x
    That's a lot of alliteration in your opening sentence :)

  5. Hope you back is feeling better. A good book always helps and more is better!

    I read some of his books many years ago and have recently been toying with getting one or two on audible to listen to as I could so do with an injection of the warm sun and hunky Montalbano and his collection of misfit officers. How they solve anything is the real mystery!

    My friend and I love the BBC4 crime series esp. the Montalbano/Young Montalbano series and sit texting each other throughout commenting on Montalbano the elder's bandy legs, Catarella's door whapping and how long it will take some improbably beautiful woman to notice him and fall into his arms and how gorgeous his house is. Yep, this has to be my next audio book.


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