What better way to escape from the current Coronavirus lockdown than to transport yourself for a few hours to Montalbano’s Sicily with this latest book by the now sadly deceased Andrea Camilleri?
I rate this as one of the most enjoyable Montalbanos. It has all the usual elements of Camilleri’s Montalbano formula:
(1) Montalbano’s quirky personality.
(2) The interplay between him and his team.
(3) Lots of humour.
(4) The occasional critical social comment from Camilleri’s left-leaning perspective.
In the TV version we also get:
(5) The beautiful Sicilian scenery.
I’m a great fan of Montalbano, but not an uncritical one. A couple of Camilleri’s books have felt like he was going through the motions; a couple have contained themes or scenes which were too dark or distasteful for my liking; and a couple have contained irritating paranormal incidents. But there was nothing that spoiled this one for me.
There are two strands to the plot, and both of them are unusual and intriguing. I really wanted to read on and on. Like in a couple of his other books, one of the strands involves events going back decades. And Camilleri has some interesting things to say about our smartphone-addicted society. But I’m not going to spoil things by saying anything else about the plot.
Escape for a while to Montalbano’s world!
I'm adding a postscript after reading an interesting point made by another reviewer. That reviewer is not happy about the accents that translator Stephen Sartarelli gives to Catarella and Adelina.
When I read a Montalbano novel for the first time several years ago, I too felt doubtful about those accents. I thought at first that Sartarella was using the sort of corny, stereotyped language that writers often condescendingly put into the mouths of working class characters.
But I soon realised that this was not the case. What Sartarelli is actually doing is carrying out the difficult task of translating Camilleri’s original Italian editions, in which:
(1) Adelina’s Italian is of a rough and ready working class type, with lots of grammatical errors.
(2) Both Adelina and Catarella use a lot of Sicilian dialect. (I’ve had a go at reading some stories in the original Italian, and Camilleri’s use of Sicilian dialect makes them difficult.)
(3) Catarella is a clownish character whose linguistic confusion is used for comic effect.
So Sartarelli is actually making a good job of a difficult task. Once you get tuned into it, this language adds to the humour – unless Catarella-ish humour doesn’t appeal to you, of course.
- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 614 KB
- Print Length: 272 pages
- Publisher: Mantle (31 March 2020)
- Sold by: Macmillan (AU)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B083S88S2X
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer Reviews: 37 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,296 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)