23 June 2014 Leave a comment
Author: Mario Puzo
Summary: Tyrant, blackmailer, racketeer, murderer – his influence reaches every level of American society. Meet Don Corleone, a friendly man, a just man, a reasonable man. The deadliest lord of the Cosa Nostra. The Godfather.
A modern masterpiece, The Godfather is a searing portrayal of the 1940s criminal underworld. It is also the intimate story of the Corleone family, at once drawn together and ripped apart by its unique position at the core of the American Mafia. Still shocking forty years after it was first published, this compelling tale of blackmail, murder and family values is a true classic.
Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5
Review: I very much enjoyed The Godfather film. It has been a while since i watched it, though, so i can’t clearly compare the book to it. I do plan on re-watching it soon, so i guess i’ll see if i still like it as much now i’ve read and only 50% enjoyed the book.
I’ll try to start positive. I love a good bad guy. I love an intelligent evil character. And Vito Corleone was definitely that. Known as a reasonable man, one who would listen and be fair… he really wasn’t. He was just excellent at manipulating people. At sounding so reasonable as he issued his threats.
The mafia and five families storyline was the most interesting to me. The secrets and plots and revenge. It was entertaining. And i think the first half was better than the second. (And this ties in with my opinions on the films, too.) The first half, the action was spread nicely across the chapters. It was most interesting to read. The second half was slow going, then had all the action pay off in the last few chapters. I also prefered the characters in the first half. They seemed more real, more rounded and more genuine. By the second half they felt more two dimensional, too squeezed into roles, rather than being real characters. (Michael turning from an intelligent, rebellious youth to a man set on nothing but revenge is the most obvious example.) This could be put down to character “development”, as the book is set over 10 years or so, but i saw it more as laziness on the part of Puzo–he just didn’t bother writing the characters as well. By the second half of the book it was much more about the plot and what was happening, rather than the people it was happening to.
The book is also far too long. There are entire chapters of sub-plots that, as far as i am concerned, added nothing to the overall story and were entirely unnecessary. I didn’t give two hoots about Fontane’s singing and acting career, or his relationship with the wife he cheated on and left (which was ultimately her fault, apparently), or his friend who was determined to drink himself to death. I didn’t give two hoots about Lucy, who was one of the Corleone son’s mistresses with a gaping vagina, or how she ended up meeting a doctor who fixed that problem up for her, or the intricate details about the surgery involved in that. I’m still baffled and wondering what the point of any of that was.
I can’t put it off any longer. I have to talk about the things i hated and found unforgivable in this books: the sexism and racism. I don’t care when it was set and what culture is being represented. I don’t care if that’s how things were. The sexism and racism are not the point of the book, Puzo is not making any great point by including them. They are just little extras to help me hate every single character in the book. I was tempted to list examples, but that would take too long and make me too angry. The sexism is rife throughout the book, the racism blatant in the few times it is mentioned. My hate was on a medium-to-high heat the entire time. All the female characters are weak, either oblivious housewives good for nothing except cooking and bearing children, or mistresses, good for nothing but sex. And it’s not the fact of that that annoyed me so much, it was the blasé, commonplace of it all. The casual way it was talked about, the way it was accepted, by everyone. Just… i hated it, it was not okay.
Really, i wanted to give this book at least four stars. I did love the mafia families war plot… but the rest of the book was just so bad, so rage-inducing, that i couldn’t do it.
What i really want is the same book written from the female points of view, in which they really run the show. They are the ones manipulating their husbands and lovers, while allowing the men to think they’re in charge…