The book opens with the wedding of Connie Corleone, daughter of Don Vito 'The Godfather' Corleone, head of the most powerful of the five great Mafia clans or 'families' of New York. Don Corleone is shot at by a new contender for power in the city, Virgil 'the Turk' Solozzo, who plans to obtain power by the lure of vast profits in the drug trafficking trade. After the Don is incapacitated by his assassination attempt, the book follows the Corleone family's progress as they must now adapt to the changing times and power dynamics and maintain the Corleone empire. Santino 'Sonny' Corleone is too blunt and brash a man to ever become Don while Freddie is weak and ineffective. The book follows the journey and transformation of the youngest, and hitherto the Don's most distant, son Michael as he realizes that though he may have tried to live by society's norms, rejecting what his father represented, inside lives a true Sicilian who will stop at nothing to get what he wants and protect those he loves. Michael has a tough task ahead of him, he has to locate his father's would-be assassin, crush the rival gangs and regain once more the respect that the name Corleone inspired in New York...
The book is set in the United States of America in the 1950's when crime was organized into syndicates or 'families' and the mafia controlled most of the real power. The book follows the fictional Corleone family through their power struggles with the other gangs.
The book is written in the third person with the narrative jumping to a different central character as per plot requirements. The language is simple and direct with Italian words such as 'Consigliere' etc thrown in to give an authentic Italian feel to the narrative. The narration style is extremely neutral and reads like a report of events which makes it really easy to understand and comprehend. A tangent in the book deals with 'The Godfather' Vito Corleone's past and the details and process of the subsequent forging of the Corleone empire. This provides a historical background for all the events occurring in the book besides sketching the character of Vito more clearly. Although unnecessary from the view of plot advancement, it is one of the most interesting sections of the book.
One of my all time favorites and one of the most gripping novels that I have ever read. the Godfather is compelling in the intensity of the emotions of the events it depicts and the casual, neutral style of narration serves as an excellent foil. The complete lack of any moral verdict or judgmental coloring by the author leaves the reader free to draw his or her own conclusions about the characters and it is perhaps this reason that has most endeared it to the legions of it's readers.
Book Reviewed by Sayan Mukherjee
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