Back to matters at hand, and that being the single greatest piece of literature ever written. There you go, I’ve said it. I can’t even begin to express how much I love this book. Even the old saying ‘The book is better than the movie’ doesn’t even begin to do it justice, and I think the screen adaptation is pretty awesome as well!
The Godfather is truly a literary classic. Set against the backdrop of 1940s New York, it remains a timeless tale as Puzo concentrates on the relationship of its main protagonist rather than the era that surrounds them. At the heart of the story is the Corleone family and the criminal underworld in which they are fully immersed in. The characters are wonderfully crafted from the mild-mannered yet powerful head of the family, Don Vito Corleone, to his live-wire eldest son, Sonny, and of course Michael, the cold and calculated reluctant air to the throne. They are seamlessly woven into this brilliant tale of power, murder, and honour.
Controversy surrounded this book upon its publication in 1969 due to the fact that it romanticized the American Mafia and portrayed them as loyal serving men of honour who only killed their own. But my opinion is that just shows that people back then were as quick to jump on the PC bandwagon as they are today. In many ways, this novel was to that era what computer games like Grand Theft Auto are today. It's just a story, and a great one at that. Get over it!
For those of you that have not seen the film or read the book, I won’t spoil it for you. But what I will say is that even though I knew what was coming at the end (I’d seen the film before reading the book), I was still totally blown away with the way Puzo articulates on the page the thrilling finale which takes you by complete surprise.
Each and every character play their part in bringing this together, and the flashbacks to Don Vito's roots in Sicily and his early days as an Italian immigrant in New York, only serve to offer more depth to the background of this family and at the same time offers the reader a greater insight into the man who has ruled over this crime family.
Mario Puzo set the bar enormously high with this book, and I’m not sure any other mafia fictional story has ever been able to come close. Over the years he has brought the characters back to life through a number of sequels and prequels, and for anyone who is a fan of the original, they are well worth a read as well.