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The Godfather by Mario Puzo
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The Godfather (original 1969; edition 2005)

by Mario Puzo

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,530123458 (4.16)207
Member:quillmenow
Title:The Godfather
Authors:Mario Puzo
Info:NAL Trade (2005), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:trade, fiction, mafia

Work details

The Godfather by Mario Puzo (1969)

  1. 10
    The Sicilian by Mario Puzo (longway)
  2. 10
    Gem of the prairie : an informal history of the Chicago underworld by Herbert Asbury (ashleylauren)
  3. 00
    Leopard in the Sun by Laura Restrepo (joririchardson)
    joririchardson: Colombian literature that could be described as "The Godfather" re-written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
  4. 00
    Stiletto by Harold Robbins (ashleylauren)
  5. 01
    The Pack by C. W. Schultz (GeekyRandy)
    GeekyRandy: No real relevance. Both are about gangsters and comes from a neutral POV. "The Pack" is also obviously influenced by "The Godfather". I love both books, perhaps you will too.
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» See also 207 mentions

English (111)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (2)  German (2)  English (1)  Hungarian (1)  Hebrew (1)  French (1)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  English (123)
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Set in the 1940s and 1950s in mostly New York, the Corleone family is at the heart of a well organized crime ring. Vito Corleone, the Don of the family, keeps his fingers in all the local businesses, legal or otherwise. He’s always a gentleman, holding manners and respect in high regard. However, not everyone else holds to his old Sicilian ways. When war breaks out between the Corleone family and another crime lord, known as the Turk, manners are left in dirt.

Even though I haven heard quite a bit about The Godfather (book and movie) over the years, I had never experienced either. It was a bit of a whim that I picked this book up and I’m glad I did! This story was so much richer than I expected. I’d heard people talk about all the violence in the movies (and indeed there is violence a plenty in this book), but I had not come across anyone who talked about the depth of this novel. I really enjoyed how much Puzo put into the main characters. Vito Corleone, who plays such a vital role in this book, is a vibrant man who comes from a culture of strict rules concerning respect. His children, Sonny, Fredo, Mike, and Connie, are all Americanized and don’t share all of their father’s cultural norms. Of course this clash of cultures becomes a key piece of drama for the book.

I was quite taken with Tom Hagen, the family’s in-house lawyer. He was informally adopted as a kid when he followed one of the Corleone kids home. He didn’t have a real place to stay, so Vito’s wife made him feel right at home. Tom is always so patient and elegant. He knows that he’s not of the family, not being Sicilian or even Italian, and yet he knows the Don best. He was often the glue that kept the family together. His informal adoption into the family is just one example of how giving the Don can be.

While the women of the story are wives, sisters, mothers, and sex objects, Puzo does give them a little more depth than I expected. I found myself taken with Lucy Mancini, though not at first. Initially, she really is a sex object, however, in the later half of the book she meets up with Dr. Jules Sagal in Nevada. Now I was quite surprised that the book went into so much detail about Lucy’s unusually large vagina, what causes that, and how to fix it but I also applaud the author for doing so. This is something that is interesting but may also serve to enlighten people about a little talked about medical issue.

There is plenty of violence throughout the story, but not nearly as much as in today’s action flicks. Also, I felt that the author did a good job of portraying realistic outcomes of each violent episode. I did feel a bit for the horse but I also understood that the Don was making a statement without the loss of human life. Then later on, the wife of one of the sons is accidentally murdered and that was a little bit of a tear jerker. Each violent episode brought some emotion out of me.

Finally, let’s talk a little about Johnny Fontane, the Hollywood star and godson to Vito Corleone. He has this life that’s been strongly influenced by the Don and yet he lives this very different and separate life out in California. I found his life a bit sad and a little dramatic. He’s surrounded by other stars who all have egos as big as his. Yet he finds his most satisfaction in visiting his ex-wife and their two children. They have an unusual and yet very practical arrangement. As side characters, I found them pretty interesting.

All in all, this novel (which was first published in 1969) was more than I expected. I’m sure several bits of this book were considered taboos in 1969 (Lucy’s large vagina, Johnny’s irregular relationship with his ex-wife, etc.) and perhaps are still considered a bit rude to talk about in public these days. The character depth for the main male characters was unexpected but definitely appreciated. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed Vito’s back story. Puzo definitely caught my eye with this classic novel and I will be reading more of his works soon.

The Narration: As you can see, there’s a huge list of narrators; full Cast directed by Michael Page: Dan Price, Lorna Johnson, Don Stroup, Terry Bozeman, Richard Lavin, Amy Sunshine, Larry Brandenburg, Rose Nadolsky, Peter Syvertsen, Jane Brody, Bob O’Donnell, Joe Van Slyke, Marie Chambers, Si Osborne, Chuck Winter, Charles Fuller, and Malcolm Rothman. Sometimes I liked that there were so many voices since this book has a sizable list of characters. However, sometimes it was clear that some parts conversations were recorded with the narrators at different times. I sometimes found that while one character was dramatically narrated, the other character in the same conversation would sound much more down to Earth. So the performance as a whole teeters on that edge between radio drama and a decently narrated novel. Quite frankly, I think I would have preferred a version narrated by 1 or perhaps 2 people. ( )
  DabOfDarkness | Nov 14, 2016 |
Beautifully written, caprtivating story, marvellous character development. I was so into the book that I barely ut it down. ( )
  Kanwal | Oct 4, 2016 |
Classsic Puzo! A must read! ( )
  LauGal | Aug 16, 2016 |
Great book though preferred the movie, maybe because I had seen it first. ( )
  Gary_Power | Jul 10, 2016 |

"Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than the government. It is almost the equal of family."

The Godfather turned out being much better than I anticipated. Originally being in a long list of books I would "eventually get to," I only picked it up because it was on the floor near me when I was also on the floor organizing the book closet. Needing a break (and being lazy as usual), I decided to randomly start reading the first page. What drew me in wasn't the story nor even the opening - it was the writing style. I found out quickly that I LOVE Puzo's writing style. There's something about the way he crafts his words, blends them together, always to the point, never going into poetic territory but somehow always hanging over the brink of it.

The story told is a well known because of the movies. Generally I don't mention the movie form much in book reviews, but with The Godfather it's inevitable and the review wouldn't be the same without it. The story stays with the same and the adaption to the movie is spot on. They changed little, even keeping most of the dialogue and order identical for the scenes including. The exception is the flashbacks of Vito Corleone's early life, and there were of course some smaller scenes which weren't included in the movie for time and pacing sake.

Switching point of view among many can be problematic for readers (especially me, too frequent head hopping is always a pet peeve), but with this case the hopping only happens when it makes sense and is done subtly and effectively. The tale is a traditional one with extra punch - the son who doesn't want to become the father, the importance of family, and the struggles of power. I found the theories of the Italian mindset and mafia goals added into the story fascinating, a cultural difference in society that I never personally encountered (and doubtfully ever will.)

When a story has a villain, villains are usually more effective and enjoyable when they are three dimensional (they have good traits as well) Much of the book explains the godfathers mindset, reasoning, philosophies, and strict sense of his version of honor. It's not done in a preachy way; in fact, interestingly no other viewpoint is ever seen, experienced, or given from opposing characters.

The slow ascension into power by Michael Corleone is powerful. Even if the book has some slow scenes and isn't gripping in an action sense, it doesn't need to be as it's clearly a drama filled tale. Michael is realistic as the son who wishes to set apart with his own future, pulled in eventually by honor learned after tainting himself. Vito is equally fascinating with his past, his present, his philosophies. I really hold no bad thoughts toward any of the characters and when their viewpoints are used.

It's easy seeing why this one became such a seller and was made successfully into a popular movie. Even if the cultural presence isn't a reality we all personally experience, it's easily understood and to a point agreed with. The struggle among father and son and setting a person's own path is an age old story always enjoyed as it DOES affect people even today and always will. ( )
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Puzo, Marioprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bart, PeterAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bennett, HarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thompson, Robert J.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wijk, Johan vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Behind every great fortune there is a crime. - Balzac
Dedication
For Anthony Cleri
First words
Amerigo Bonasera sat in New York Criminal Court No. 3 and waited for justice; vengeance on the men who had so cruelly hurt his daughter, who had tried to dishonor her.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0451205766, Paperback)

The story of Don Vito Corleone, the head of a New York Mafia family, inspired some of the most successful movies ever. It is in Mario Puzo's The Godfather that Corleone first appears. As Corleone's desperate struggle to control the Mafia underworld unfolds, so does the story of his family. The novel is full of exquisitely detailed characters who, despite leading unconventional lifestyles within a notorious crime family, experience the triumphs and failures of the human condition. Filled with the requisite valor, love, and rancor of a great epic, The Godfather is the definitive gangster novel.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:05 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

A searing novel of the Mafia underworld, The godfather introduced readers to the first family of American crime fiction, the Corleones, and the powerful legacy of tradition, blood, and honor that was passed on from father to son. With its themes of the seduction of power, the pitfalls of greed, and family allegiance, it resonated with millions of readers across the world-and became the definitive novel of the virile, violent subculture that remains steeped in intrigue, in controversy, and in our collective consciousness.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 11 descriptions

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