Seldom does a book’s movie adaptation become as appreciated as the book itself. The Godfather is one such rare instance. Godfather I and II are the second and third highest rated movies on IMDb. The book is as stunning and engaging as the movie. ‘The Godfather’ is so famous that it has influenced a plethora of movies old and new (Nayagan, for instance) and its effect on the American Society has been termed ‘The Godfather effect’!
This post is about the book (and why you should read it) which I found more appealing than the movie.
The Plot: (Without major Spoilers)
The story begins with three people going to the Don for help on different issues: A father who seeks action against men who tried to molest his daughter, a prominent hero whose career relies on an upcoming movie in which he might not be cast, a doting father who wants his daughter’s lover made legally ‘American’ as he is an illegal immigrant. And that, people, was how their problems were solved.
Don Vito Corleone runs the Corleone (read Mafia) family, one of the five primary families that operates in New York, at the Long Beach with his ‘caporegimes’ Tessio and Clemenza. He has Sonny Corleone, his son, next in the line to take up the ‘family business’. Michael Corleone is a World War II soldier (a recurring characteristic in Mario Puzo’s works because he was a soldier himself) and the third son of the Don. The actual story begins with the marriage of The Don’s daughter Connie.
Sometime into the story, The Don is shot publicly after he refuses a drug deal (Because he thinks ‘drugs’ is evil). The Don survives but needs time for recovery. Meanwhile, Sonny and Tom Hagen, the Consiglieri (read The Don’s legal assistant) try to bring things under control and try to prevent an all-out-mafia-war.
Whether the Corleone family resurrects into its past strength or it gets crushed by the other families forms the rest of the story.
What you should definitely read the book for:
1.A narrative that is ‘raw’ (what kind of ‘rawness’ you’ll come to know when you read 😛 )and highly gripping with minimal gore and bloodshed for such a theme.
Right from the first chapter, the narrative imprints an image of the mid-twentieth century.
2.Characterisation: The gentleman Don, the angry Sonny, the confused Johnny and the stupid Nino will stay in your mind for as long as your memory lasts.
3. ‘The Thunderbolt’ and Apollonia at Sicily!
Chapter 23 it is! Arguably one of the best ever chapters in publishing history.
4.How Johnny Fontane lands the lead character role and how he subsequently wins the Oscar (Yes, Oscar!)
Tom Hagen, the Don’s Consiglieri, goes to meet Jack Woltz, director of the movie in which Fontanne was refused a role. Jack is adamant and is least afraid of the Don until the Don does something that shreds his courage and audacity into pieces. Absolute stunner!
5.The final two chapters!
The final few chapters could easily have been a hundred pages long but, Mario Puzo in his unique style finishes the story when you just thought this book would end only in its sequel.
6.Three simultaneous stories that are told uniquely: (Excluding the Don’s flashback , Carlo Rizzi, Lucy Macini and Dr. Jules)
That of Johnny Fontane, Michael Corleone and Sonny/Don.
‘The Godfather’ is a ‘must read’ that will give you plenty to remember and plenty to quote. Chances are your college/school library might have it. Or get it for yourself from Flipkart or Amazon.com if you are a serious reader or a book collector (Give me five if thats you).
I’ll give you a suggestion you shouldn’t refuse: Read ‘The Godfather’!
Pick it up and kill time!
An edited version of this article can be found on nowdrifting.com
For other/better reviews head to The Godfather’s page on goodreads.com
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