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The Family: A Novel Hardcover – October 2, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Before his death in [1999], Puzo (The Last Don) had begun work on a novel featuring the 15th-century Borgias, whom he regarded as "the original crime family." There are obvious parallels between the Borgias and the Corleone clan immortalized in The Godfather, but the resemblances are mostly superficial, at least as they are presented in this limp historical romance. The story opens with Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia manipulating papal elections in 1492 to become the new Pope Alexander. Determined to establish a family dynasty, he appoints his son Cesare cardinal in his stead and, after a strategically engineered episode of incest between siblings Cesare and Lucrezia, begins ruthlessly eliminating rivals and marrying his children into alliances with the offspring of noble families of France and Spain. But Cesare would rather be a soldier, and Lucrezia would rather marry for love; these conflicted desires contribute as much as risky political power plays to undoing the Borgias in a single generation. Though Gino (Puzo's companion, author of Then an Angel Came) is credited for the posthumous completion, Puzo's true collaborator is history, and it proves a difficult partner. Obligated not to deviate from known facts, the narrative whizzes methodically through highlights of the Renaissance, embellishing events with snatches of imagined dialogue, purple prose ("For love can steal free will using no weapons but itself") and cameos by Machiavelli, Michelangelo and da Vinci. Overwhelmed by the vast pageant of events, the characters never achieve dramatic stature. Puzo's diehard fans will surely put the novel on their summer hit list, but they may feel, in Sonny Corleone's words, that "this isn't personal, it's business." Major ad/promo; simultaneous HarperAudio and Large Print edition.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Much will probably be made of this last novel by the celebrated author of The Godfather and a slew of other gangster novels. After Puzo's death in [1999], this historical fiction was completed by Carol Gino, his companion. The subject is the misunderstood family Borgia, who were sometimes malevolent, always maligned, and mostly political part Clintons, part Kennedys, part Sopranos. Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia becomes Pope Alexander VI and moves into the Vatican with his mistresses and children. Alexander deeply loves yet still controls his offspring, including the ambitious and handsome warrior Cesare, who wants to shed his cardinal robes to lead the papal army in conquest of central Italy; the sweet but flawed Lucretia, whose incestuous relationship with Cesare raises eyebrows; and lusty Juan, who carries on with the wife of little brother Jofre, who in turn becomes murderously jealous. Most of the melodramatic murder and mayhem comes straight out of the history books, but the characters lack depth, with their motivations only mildly explored. This late 15th-century family's story is more soap opera than serious treatment of the troubled dynasty that influenced the Renaissance.
- David Nudo, formerly with "Library Journal"
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (October 2, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060394455
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060394455
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #743,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 69 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on January 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"The Family", is a three star read, however a fourth star for honesty is valid. This book was not finished prior to Mario Puzo's death, and so was finished by Carol Gino. This fact is stated on the front of the dust jacket. The reason I make such an issue of this is that other authors who have left uncompleted work still have books published after their death that they did not finish, and no mention is made. Carol Gino also includes an Afterword that explains the origins of the novel, the reason it was not written prior to other of his works, and her own trepidation in regard to completing the book.
Mr. Puzo was evidently fascinated by the time period covered in this book, and specifically with the Borgia Family. He had traveled to The Vatican prior to his death, which continued to keep this novel alive, if not a first priority. The reason for the book not being his most urgent task is also explained, and I believe readers will find the causes interesting.
Carl Gino was with Mario Puzo for 20 years, so it is reasonable to accept she knew him and his work very well. She is also an author in her own right, so again she was qualified as anyone to attempt to complete what Mr. Puzo left undone. I always have thought that completing another author's work is basically an impossible task. "The Family", will not rank as the best work ever to carry Mr. Puzo's name, however the book clearly was his creation.
The issue I had was that the book went on longer than the story required, so it read as though Carol Gino was trying not to leave anything out, as opposed to editing the tale so that it had a brisk cadence, a nice sharp pace that would have been consistent with all the intrigue of the story and the style of Mr. Puzo's other work.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Bold on August 30, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'll never forget the night I saw this book for the first time at my local bookstore.

"The man just couldn't stop writing Mafia novels," I snickered to myself as I picked it up and began to peruse it.

Well, I was only half-right. The book was about the notorious Italian Renaissance family, the Borgias. Since I've always been interested in that part of history, and wanting to know more about the Borgias (having read about them before, but not having come across a book dedicated to them), I promptly bought it.

Until I'd read _The Family_, I'd always thought Puzo modelled the Corleones, at least in part, after Joe Bonanno and his son Bill. Again, I was only partially correct. Although there are some parallels between the Corleones and the Bonanos, Puzo's real inspiration was _la famiglia Borgia_.

Like Vito Corleone, Rodrigo Borgia, who became Pope Alexander VI, was a ruthless, powerful man with three sons and a daughter. None of them had any qualms about murdering their enemies "to protect the family."

Michael Corleone and Cesare Borgia, whom Rodrigo elevated to cardinal, were both successful in the military.

Like Michael and Fredo, Jofre Borgia had his own brother Juan (aka Giovanni) murdered.

Cesare died in a hail of arrows, just as Sonny Corleone died in a hail of gunfire.

Lucrezia Borgia reportedly preferred to poison her enemies, reminiscent of the way Connie Corleone killed Don Altobello with a lethal canoli in _The Godfather Part III_.

And, like Michael and Connie, Cesare and Lucrezia were very, very close. Only Michael and Connie didn't have an affair with each other, let alone begin it under their father's approving eyes.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By E.J.L. on June 1, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book was an OK read. The writing was stiff, but the story was interesting, if somewhat historically inaccurate. It was good bedtime reading and maybe something I would take with me on a vacation when I want to read something but I don't want to think about it too hard. Lots of gore and weird sex and who doesn't enjoy that?
However, if you want the real story, there are tons of well written, colourful and accurate biographies.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Loren D. Morrison on September 14, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
According to Carol Gino's afterword, prior to Puzo's death, she and Puzo had discussed his unfinished manuscript of this book, and she, with his blessings, was able to fulfill his wishes and complete it. In my opinion, her efforts were successful, as I detect no stylistic differences or breaks in the continuity of the book. I feel that we, as readers, owe her our thanks for bringing his last dream to fruition.
Before going into the body of the review, it should be noted that THE FAMILY is based on extensive research by Puzo, and the facts of the following are either historically accurate, or can be reasonably assumed from the facts available.
In THE FAMILY, Puzo has gotten away from his usual theme of 20th century Mafia families and, instead, has built this narrative around an ordinary Renaissance era family who resided in Rome. Well, maybe not exactly ordinary. They did have a quirk or two, and, after all, daddy was the Pope. That's right, daddy was the Pope, so maybe they're not exactly an ordinary family after all. Daddy, Pope Alexander VI, was Rodrigo Borgia, the father of the Borgia clan. You know the Borgias, those playful youngsters; Cesare, Lucrezia, Juan, and Jofre. In those far off days, the Catholic clergy couldn't marry, but a great many of them had mistresses and openly acknowledged their offspring.
Alexander was a truly kind-hearted man. An example of this kind-heartedness was in the way he handled a politically necessary assassination of someone he truly liked. He made sure that the assassination was carried out in the most humane, pain free way possible. A true humanitarian!
Alexander might well have been called the "Education Pope." He strongly believed in education.
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