The Godfather by Mario Puzo

Monday 4 June 2007
by  Ruaridh P
popularity : 3%

Mario Puzo’s fourth and most famous novel opens at Connie Corleone’s wedding, the daughter of powerful Mafia don Vito Corleone, at their house and fortress on Long Island. The plot follows the Corleone family from 1945 to 1955, and also covers the backstory of the Don’s childhood when he comes to America seeking work.

Don Corleone has three biological sons: Santino "Sonny" Corleone, Frederico "Fredo" Corleone, Michael "Mike" Corleone, and one daughter, Costanzia "Connie" Corleone. Tom Hagen, who becomes Family lawyer and "consiglieri", is an orphan taken in by Vito, an act proving his reputed "caring" and "fairness" as a Mafia chief and as a human being.

The story follows Vito’s generation of Mafia activity on the east coast of America, and the promotion of his last son, Michael, to don in Las Vegas, as the Family makes a strategical but delicate move west to become more and more legitimate. The story flashes back to Vito’s arrival in America, and explains the rise of Mafia power through the people’s need for protection against the corruption of a newly born industrial country.

This fantastic novel is a great read for anyone remotely interested in the Mafia or the underworld in general. The relatively simple language makes it open to audiences starting around 13 years old; Italian and Sicilian words are used throughout the book for credibility, but are all explained. The pace is very varied, between very long and heavy sentences to give an old-fashioned and respectful discipline to the Mafia history; to short sentences speeding up action-packed and violent scenes, never as explicitly exploited as they could be, which keeps the Mafia from being taken for simple butchers.

This is a thrilling novel, which explores the roots of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, up to its organized rackets and ruthless violence in post-war America.