I remember having brought a copy of “The Godfather” paperback around 12 years ago and putting it away because I did not want to read Mafia – gang war stories back then. More than a decade later, I have been told umpteen number of times by friends and fans of the movie that goes by the same name that I need to watch the movie and I knew I wouldn’t watch it until I’ve read the book. So this time, true to my word, I went ahead and repurchased the hard copy online and finished reading during this spring while waiting out the corona virus pandemic. And I must say – What a fine add to my growing collection of books!
Written in 1969, Maria Puzo’s “The Godfather” is a classic that goes well to resonate the American Dream. Though all the legends of this story, from Vito Corleone to his sons and the associates and other Mafia families involved – all of them are essentially characters essayed with the understanding that they are against the law. Or rather, that they created a law or system for themselves that they would follow to enforce an order and discipline they consider as better than what the prescribed system provides.
The books opening line – “Behind every great fortune, there is a crime” is probably the most apt way Puzo could have started this epic timeless saga that is still revered as among the best classics written. Opening with Constanzia(Connie) Corleone’s wedding scene, the author loses no time in introducing us to Vito Corleone, or known respectfully to everyone as “The Don”. He is a force to be reckoned with, a friend to those who swear his allegiance to him, and those who do not – see in him the head of a mafia who will go to any extent to secure the safety of his “family business” and “family”. There are a few classic punch liners that I couldn’t help but keep highlighted in my copy of the book just so that I do not miss them later.
“Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than government. It is almost the equal of family. Never forget that.Vito Corelone, The God Father
Despite heading the most powerful mafia family in New York, there are principles Don lives by. He says no to drug dealing or anything involving narcotics and supporting the sale and distribution of it that sets forth a chain of events that impact the very way the family and business were run. The other powerful New York families along with Solozzo launch an attack on The Don that is treated as an act of war. It is also a time that tests who among his three sons may prove to be a worthy heir to the title of “The Don” because its not a title gained by ruthlessness but with a great deal of respect worthy actions. The later half of the book sees the transformation of Michael Corleone into the new Don of the Corleone family and how he exacts vengeance for the loss of his dear ones.
“Revenge is a dish that tastes best when served cold.”Maria Puzo, The God Father
The depiction of characters is worthy of noting – Sonny Corleone, tough and well built, does come across as a worthy successor to Don though he falls short in terms of managing his temper. However his journey is cut short and the part that involves his end definitely did strike me as moving and I had to pause reading for a while to get over that. The shy and gentle Michael Corleone who stayed away from all of the mafioso sees himself awakening to prove to be one of Don’s sons. Kay Adams remains the moral compass of the entire series. She depicts everything that is gentle yet tough and a worthy partner to the new Don.
“Many young men started down a false path to their true destiny. Time and fortune usually set them aright.”Maria Puzo, The God Father
The only 2 sections of the book that I found really not living upto the greatness of the story were the ones involving the Italian damsel “Appolonia” and Lucy Marcinis “pelvic floor surgery”. Michael’s little “thunderbolt” story in Italy sounded a bit like a leaf out of Mills and Boons and I was glad it was really only a short episode. Lucy Marcini probably never had a great role to play except for being Sonny’s love interest but her character was given a plot later in the book that really did not add much significance to the entire story line – except for may be “spice it up a notch”.
KindleandKompass Rating – 4/5
Verdict – Must Read
“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”Vito Corleone to Tom Hagen, The God father
“The Godfather” is always a timeless classic that should be read by anyone who loved the movie; especially given the fact that we are talking about a book that came out in 1969 and a movie created in 1972 based on this book that ranked at #1 in the IMDB list of world films for a long long time until it was displaced recently by Shawshank Redemption to #2 .
Not only does it talk about the mafia, gang wars and all that goes into building the great families, it also, beyond doubt sends one message – that there is a price paid for every greatness. What goes round, comes around.
So let me make you an offer that you cannot refuse. Pick up the book now and read and you will not be disappointed!
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