The Godfather by Mario Puzo


About the Author

Mario Puzo was born in ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ on Manhattan’s West Side and, following military service in World War 2, attended New York’s New School for Social Research  and Colombia University. His best known novel, The Godfather, was preceded by two critically acclaimed novels published in the early sixties, The Fortunate Pilgrim’ and ‘The Dark Arena’. His subsequent novels included Fools Die, The Sicilian, The Fourth K and The Last Don. Mario Puzo was also the author of ten screenplays . For both of his screenplay adaptations of The Godfather, he won the Academy Awards. Mario Puzo died in 1999 leaving the completed manuscript of his last novel, Omertà. 


Review

This book is a modern classic and any words I try to put down would not give it justice. The book starts off with a courthouse where Amerigo Bonasera waited for justice to be done to the men who had so cruelly hurt his daughter and had tried to dishonour her. However, the judge was paid off and the boys were sent home. It then switches to Johnny Fontane in a physical spat with his beautiful actress wife where he is humiliated and then to Nazorine, a baker who needed an American citizenship for a man, Enzo who was with his daughter. 

All three of these men land up on the day of Connie Corleone’s wedding – she is the daughter of Don Vito Corleone, a just and reasonable Sicilian man whose influence reached every level of American Society. A man whom everybody came for help and never were they disappointed. He made no empty promises nor the craven excuse that his hands were toed by more powerful forces in the world than himself. It was not necessary that he be your friend or that you had no means to pay him. Only one thing was required, that you yourself proclaim your friendship, the respectful title of ‘Don’ and sometimes the more affectionate salutation of ‘Godfather’. It was understood that you were in his debt and that he had the right to call upon you at any time to redeem your debt by some small service. 

This book takes you through Don Vito Corleone’s way of helping people who come to him – the mafia way. He comes off as a strategist that has a huge network of cronies and higher ups in his pocket, all willing to do his bidding without it being traced back to him. He has three sons – Sonny Corleone who is unfaithful to his wife, hot tempered making him ill suited to run the family business. Fredo, though the dutiful son, didn’t have the charisma, magnetism and the animal force that is so necessary for a leader of men. The third son, Michael was the only child that refused the Don’s direction. He joined the Marine Corps, defying his father’s express command. Connie Corleone, the only daughter is married to Carlo Rizzi, a man the Don is not extremely pleased with and keeps him out of the family business. 

This book is as much a story about fierce loyalty and family ties than it is about the Mafia and its gory details. All the characters in the book go through experiences that either change them or make them remain stubbornly steadfast. Kay Adams, Connie and Mama Corleone attitude towards the family business are vastly different. Though Michael and Vito Corleone are central to this book, Tom Hagen, Sonny and Clemenza stand out. 

This book will not disappoint. It is a gem worth having in your collection and a book to go back to every time you have a Mafia itch!