The Godfather by Mario Puzo

So this is the book that one of the most famous films in history was based on. I won’t go into plot details as I think it’s unnecessary but what I did find striking is how similar the film is to the book, which is very strange in adaptations.

It starts, as does the movie, with Connie’s wedding and ends in the same place too. Even the dialogue is incredibly similar to what was used in the film. What is different is that there are a couple of threads in the book that are almost completely excised in the film. These mainly revolve around Johnny Fontane and Lucy, Connie’s bridesmaid.

Obviously the famous horse’s head scene is here but Johnny’s storyline is nearly as major as Michael’s and deals with his life in Hollywood, his marriages, friends and the problem with his voice. It is interesting but some of the scenes seem pretty far out, particularly the Oscar after party. Lucy’s is very strange. Half her storyline is about her sex life and the problems she has and it doesn’t age too well. To be honest women in this are mostly all minor characters and are almost completely defined by the men in their lives.

Another thing I was struck by was how distant the storyline was. There is not much dialogue, or even time spent in character’s heads. It’s mostly an almost narration of what is going on, like a historical record or a voiceover in a film. It gives an epic feel to it but does lose empathy with the characters. I also loved that in the second film they used Vito’s backstory as it was one of the most interesting parts of the book. Other character’s also get fleshed out a bit more such as Luca Brasi and Albert Neri and really show some of the more brutal sides of the business.

All in all this is a great book. Some strange story choices and parts have not aged well but if you’re a fan of the film I would thoroughly recommend. It has an epic feel to it and moves at a brisk place while moving around with the narrative between people and even in time. It’s a big book but perhaps because I know the story so well I flew through it.

5 stars

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