Review – We Like Our Aperol Spritzes With A Dash Of Homicide

By now, dear reader, you’ve deduced that we’re not known for our follow through. Our book reading rate for any given meeting hovers around 30%, and that’s being generous. Which begs the question: what are we reading? And what are we enjoying?

As I write this, it’s raining in Brooklyn, and the first signs of crisp, fall air are sliding through the open window. While there are a couple weeks left of summer, I’m reminiscing on sweet summer nights and lazy, hazy afternoons (and ignoring the swampy city smells and unattractive but inevitable butt sweat that comes with any good NYC summer). And as I long for one more Aperol Spritz before the season ends, I’m reminded of an equally delicious read from a few months back: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, by Mario Giordano.

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Told from the perspective of Poldi’s nephew, a struggling writer who doesn’t have a whole lot going for him, it recounts Poldi’s first foray into the criminal underworld of Sicily. Upon her sixtieth birthday, Poldi leaves her beloved Bavaria behind and moves to Sicily (Torre Archirafi, to be exact). While the island is home to her recently deceased husband’s family, and collection of nosy but well-meaning brothers and sisters-in-law, what she really wants is to drink herself to death in relative peace. However, Poldi is forced to put her plans on hold when the young handyman helping repair her rundown seaside home goes missing, and she suspects something has gone terribly wrong. When she finds his body on the beach, she vows to bring his killer to justice. What ensues is a thriller as twisty as the Sicilian roads, with Poldi playing Miss Marple as she interrogates possible Mafia members, Bavarian officials, and down-on-their-luck aristocrats, all while throwing herself directly in the path of the police detective she can’t seem to forget. Poldi is not the most reliable of sleuths: she’s impulsive, and probably not the sharpest tack in the box (alcohol aside). What she does have is heart, and an intuition that (eventually) leads her on the correct path. Giordano has assembled an oddball supporting cast that add to the book’s charms and make Poldi’s madcap schemes to catch the killer endearing and entertaining. Don’t pass on Poldi: she’s the fierce aunt we not-so-secretly wish to have, and hope to be.

 

Verdict: A charming mystery that will have you longing for distant shores and adventure.

Pairs well with: Aperol Spritz, obviously.

 

 

 

The Club Celebrates the 4th…With a Book

Hello Readers,

It’s July 4, a day for sparklers, a cold Bud, and blisters from walking endless blocks to secure the perfect firework-gazing spot. While our political climate seems more contentious than ever, there is one thing we can agree on: it’s the perfect day to kickstart your summer reading. What do we have on the docket? Let’s start with our latest club pick:

 

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Sloane Crosley’s latest collection of essays, Look Alive Out There, hit shelves a decade after her first collection, I Was Told There’d Be Cake. She’s back with more hilarious adventures, from¬†scaling volcanoes to crashing shivas. MV was reading this in the park last weekend, and might have spent more time laughing while reading, than actually reading. More of our thoughts are coming later this month.

 

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As I wrote in our last missive, I have a massive writing crush on Joan Didion. An entry about summer reads (especially on ‘Murica’s birthday) seemed incomplete without Didion’s latest book, a collection of her notes from the 1970s. The first set, “Notes on the South,” documents a road trip she took with her husband through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. She vividly documents a world of horse shows, political soirees, and empty highways that, to today’s reader, may not seem that different from the South of today. The second portion of the book, “California Notes,” reflects on Didion’s childhood in Sacramento, and what “The West” means to those along the Pacific Coast. If you want to get a glimpse into a brilliant mind, and understand what America’s varied landscapes mean to the people that inhabit them, then add this to your list.

 

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To me, summer reading has often meant a bone-chilling thriller to dive into at the beach (as if the seagulls aren’t terrifying enough). A few of my favorites: The Woman in Cabin 10, which I recently finished on a hot summer morning in the park (while MV read Sloane Crosley). Ruth Ware fills the pages with badass women who refuse to be held captive, something we can all aspire to. Sharp Objects premieres on HBO this weekend; if you haven’t dipped into Gillian Flynn’s twisted thriller with more mommy issues than any one person should have, then I highly recommend jumping in. This last title is one of my favorite series that my Dad and I read together. Relic introduces readers to the rule-breaking, justice-seeking Special Agent Pendergast as he investigates mysterious murders inside the Museum of Natural History.

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I’ll cap off our list with an essential summer read by an author often called The Queen of the Summer Read: Elin Hilderbrand. While I have yet to read her latest summer hit, The Perfect Couple, I thoroughly enjoyed The Identicals,¬†a book that solidified herself as a mainstay on summer reading lists and in beach totes nationwide. Twin sisters living on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, respectively, decide to swap islands and lives over the course of one summer. There’s family drama, romance, and plenty of lobster rolls and wine consumed while gazing at the Atlantic. What more could want? Oh, right: some more wine to go along with your summer reading.

Enjoy,

E