Review by David Giver
Like many of the people of my age group, I came to know the Corleone family through the films of Francis Ford Coppola, and again this was not during the original theatrical release. Instead, it was during my early teen years when my mother rented them from the neighborhood video store and brought them home for me to watch with her. I knew there was a book that they were based off of, but at fourteen that was the least of my concerns, this was going to be an experience that let me in on so many pop culture references.
A few years later, I would come upon a copy of Mario Puzo’s The Godfather in a used book store. I bought it, and took it home. As I was still not an avid reader, it sat on a pile of my books for a few weeks before I even cracked the cover. When I did crack the cover, I could not put the book down. As much as I had loved the movies, I was astonished how much more powerful and insightful the book was. This would become a lesson that I would learn again and again, every time that I read a book and then went and saw the movie that they made from it. Puzo’s characters were deep and thoughtful, and not just the overpowering brutes that appeared on the screen. This was the saga of a family coming to terms with life in America and what it meant for them.
For these reasons alone, I was a bit apprehensive about becoming involved in this latest chapter in the history of the Corleone Family. How could anyone write these characters as Puzo once had? How can a writer add to a story that has already been alluded to in the previous novel? I believe that Ed Falco has answered both of these questions brilliantly. Flaco seems to have just taken the source material, being that this novel is based on a screenplay written by Mario Puzo, and has stayed authentic to it. I could not hunt down my copy of The Godfather, but each line of Falco’s work felt as though it could have been penned by Puzo himself. Falco did not rely on a reader that was already versed in the lore of the Corleone family, rather he built the characters from the ground up so that even readers unfamiliar with the original story could start here and read the story through as though this work was published first.
Falco’s book proves to be that missing link, the one that tells the full story of all of the secrets that are only whispered about in The Godfather. Two of the most dynamic characters of the saga come to life in this novel in a way that will add to the next time any reader opens Puzo’s novel. These are the stories of Luca Brasi, the diavolo, and Vito Corleone, the businessman. Anyone that is not new to the story knows that their lives will become intertwined, but The Family Corleone artfully brings to life the characters and the lives they lead, and how those lives are on an inevitable collision course.
It is easy to love Vito Corleone and what he wants for his family; it is much harder to bring the reader to love Luca Brasi, but the way that Ed Falco writes him in this novel leads one to have
only one possible reaction, and that is to fall in love with the tragic hero, the mythical boogeyman that strikes fear into all that come into his presence. Falco has created a work that plays much like the late in life conversation that many people have had with an elderly relative. That relative knows the family secrets, but is not so open to letting them slip out in public. That is until time is running out on their life, and all of the principals of the stories are dead, and therefore safe from scrutiny. Falco fills in the blanks, sometimes in gory detail, of the stories we always wanted to know, but never knew who to ask.