I am not a hardcore bibliophile. Reading has been more of a pastime than a passion. (So a review from my side might not hold much value ).Still(not degrading myself much),I have tried quite a number of genres. From the informative India Unbound to the dreamy fantasy of Harry Potter’s, from the fictional “The Day of the Jackal” to the autobiographical “The Wings of Fire”.
But the one genre that has always left me exhilarated is thrillers. Whether it is the nail biting thrillers of Agatha Christie or clever plots of Sherlock Holmes, thrillers have always been my first choice. Even though I started with Sherlock Holmes the one which made me fan of this genre is almost the senior figure of the crime thriller The Godfather. A book review of my all time favorite is sure to be easy.(This review, now doesn’t seem to be a obligation).
So,I read it again, scrutinizing it page by page, trying to come up with some pretense of objectivity as to what Puzo really wanted from his cult classic(As committing crime of writing a misleading review of this celebrated novel won’t remain unpunished)
It seems, the magical Puzo, cared less for the literary swagger and parade but more for a crowd pleasing easy read with this novel. A classic baked with memorable clichés (with ” I’m gonna make him an offer he cannot refuse” surely topping the list) this noir ,which has been relished by a generation of readers, surely created a genre of its own.
To begin with the review, the novel establishes with narratives of troubled people(how they plan to go to a wedding), people with issues which a man with power and reason can solve. A man whose “hands are not tied by powerful forces of the world”, a man who demands nothing except “proclamation of friendship.”The man, the bride’s father ,Don Vito Corleone, also fondly called as The Godfather.
Don Vito, the aging patriarch of the Corleone family , is a crime lord whose influence reaches every level of American society. He heads the Corleone Family which deals with gambling and union racketeering. They are the typical American survivors who immigrated from Italy, initiated from the business of selling olive oil, and slowly became a part of the Mafia.Don Vito has three sons:the short tempered Santino or”Sonny” ,the fragile but obedient Frederico or Freddie and the War-Hero Micheal who “refused the great man’s direction”. The wedding they attend is the Don Vito’s daughter Connie Corleone. There is another son or rather an adopted one, Tom Hagen, brought by Sonny Corleone into the family when he was a kid. Tom became consigliere(an Italian term for advisor) which is a central figure in family business dealings, but he is kept in the dark about many other matters as he is not considered as “wartime consigliere”.
All seems in control but a failed business deal and an assassination attempt on the Don Vito and you know everything is changed. Old Rivalries revive, murders happen overnight,loyality is tested and revenge is served(which is, according to Puzo ,best served when the dish is cold.)What happens to the Corleone family?Will the values of the Family change with the crisis.And till what limits one can go to protect his family?This is what takes up this sensational saga.
The Godfather, no doubt is a narrative of the mafia family. But its popularity doesn’t owe much to the mindless blood-spilling , cold blooded revenge or vendetta. The high -light of the novel is in its character portrayal. The brilliant characterization certainly leaves a mark on the reader(and on the cinema) whether its main characters like Don Vito: “He made no empty promises, nor the craven excuse that his hands were tied by more powerful forces in the world than himself. “or Luca Brasi,the personal enforcer of the Don: Brasi’s reputation for violence was awesome and his devotion to Don Corleone legendary.
The Godfather has no one plot but rather a multiple plots brilliantly woven in a decade long melodrama. The plots are driven by character and not the other way round. The complexity of the Sicilian values are shown in a truly intriguing and simple ways which surely makes it worth reading.
The Godfather may not cater to all taste buds because of its detailed violence and in its misogynistic portrayal of women but there isn’t any second thought that it surely changed the landscape of crime novels(and cinema) and hence its surely makes it worth a reading.
And sorry but couldn’t stop myself from writing.
This is a book you can’t refuse.