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Mario Puzo's Mafia

The Family Corleone

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New York, 1933. The city and the nation are in the depths of the Great Depression. The crime families of New York have prospered in this time, but with the coming end of Prohibition, a battle is looming that will determine which organizations will rise and which will face a violent end.
For Vito Corleone, nothing is more important that his family's future. While his youngest children, Michael, Fredo, and Connie, are in school, unaware of their father's true occupation, and his adopted son Tom Hagen is a college student, he worries most about Sonny, his eldest child. Vito pushes Sonny to be a businessman, but Sonny-17 years-old, impatient and reckless-wants something else: To follow in his father's footsteps and become a part of the real family business.
An exhilarating and profound novel of tradition and violence, of loyalty and betrayal, The Family Corleone will appeal to the legions of fans who can never get enough of The Godfather, as well as introduce it to a whole new generation.

437 pages, Hardcover

First published May 8, 2012

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Edward Falco

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 414 reviews
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
November 7, 2021
The Family Corleone (Mario Puzo's Mafia), Edward Falco, Mario Puzo

The Family Corleone is a 2012 novel by Edward Falco, based on an unproduced screenplay by Mario Puzo, who died in 1999. It is the prequel to Puzo's The Godfather. It was published by Grand Central Publishing and released May 8, 2012.

In 1933 New York City, 17-year-old Sonny Corleone is aware that his father Vito Corleone's olive oil business is a cover for his Mafia activities. With prohibition ending, and tensions between the organized crime groups in the city rising, Sonny wishes to join his father's criminal empire.

For Vito Corleone, nothing is more important than his family's future. His youngest children, Michael, Fredo, and Connie, are in school, unaware of their father's true occupation.

His adopted son, Tom Hagen, is a college student; but he worries most about Sonny, his oldest child. Vito pushes Sonny to be a businessman, but Sonny - seventeen years old, impatient, and reckless - wants something else: to follow in his father's footsteps, and become a part of the real family business.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هفدهم ماه می سال2014میلادی

عنوان: خانواده کورلئونه؛ نویسنده: ادوارد فالکو، بر اساس فیلمنامه ی ساخته نشده ای از ماریو پازو؛

در سال1933میلادی در «نیویورک سیتی»، «سونی کورلئون» هفده ساله، میداند که تجارت روغن زیتون پدرش «ویتو کورلئونه»، پوششی برای فعالیتهای مافیایی است؛ با پایان یافتن ممنوعیت، و افزایش تنش بین گروههای جنایی سازمان یافته در شهر، «سونی» آرزو میکند، به امپراتوری جنایی پدرش بپیوندد؛ و ...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 22/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 15/08/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Maria Clara.
993 reviews504 followers
November 9, 2017
Sencillamente inmejorable!!! Ahora, es pa´ matar a Luca. Si hay un personaje en toda la novela que he odiado, sin lugar a dudas ha sido a este.
Profile Image for Chris  Haught.
576 reviews213 followers
November 23, 2015
Madon'!, that was awesome. This book is not your garden variety franchise tie-in. This thing is the genuine article. The story was taken from an actual screenplay set down by Mario Puzo, so we know it has some authenticity. But Falco took it a step further and made one hell of a novel.

This is one of the best 5 books I've read this year, capisc'?

The Godfather is one of my favorite movies and novels of all time. The Godfather Part II is just behind it. This book, this genius of a captivating story, fits right in there. It's a prequel to The Godfather and sets it up wonderfully.

Luca Brasi does not sleep with the fishes in this book. He fucks the fishes.

Seriously though, this was awesome backstory to the film or original novel, The Godfather. This is brilliant. A prequel that tells us how Santino (Sonny) Corleone got his bones. It tells us what the family is up to during some of the years between the flashback scenes of Godfather II and the beginning of Godfather. We get a great backstory on Luca Brasi, telling how he came to be part of the Corleone organization. And the best part of this prequel just might be that there is no Jar Jar Binks!

Lots of other great characters too, including some crazy Irish. But I don't want to give away any surprises that are packed in the cannoli. It's certainly not a spoiler that we'd get some background story on Luca and Sonny, not to anyone that's seen or read the original. But the stuff that happens. Madre 'Dio!. Go read this.
Profile Image for Linda.
225 reviews44 followers
May 15, 2012
There many different ways to try and review this novel but I suppose the easiest way is the way that Paramount approached it when they launched the lawsuit against the Puzo estate...either the book will be terrible and a black mark against the Godfather legacy or it's an installment that will do well as another movie in the series and they want to claim their stake in it early so the money will go to them. My take? It falls at neither end of the spectrum people were anticipating.

As a novel, the book is an entertaining read. It has the basic tenets of any mafia story present. It doesn't bother with characterization assumably because readers will already know the characters. And they ARE characters most Godfather fans will know. There is nothing new here. Touted as a "prequel" it's really not. Yes, it gives you some background on Vito but this is more Sonny's story which is unfortunate because most readers (and moviegoers) have found Sonny to be their least favorite character for decades now. Why he was the focus of this novel is questionable both in content and marketability. Vito's story comes out vaguely in bits and pieces, none of which are really unique or individual but merely the same tale always told in the Mafia genre: escape Sicily to make a new life, find American tough so you learn to be tough yourself and dastardly deeds are sure to follow. There is nothing to really demonstrate or explain why Vito became the character readers love so much later on. Sonny is explained in detail but, like many people, I don't care. It's the age old issue of answering questions no one asked.

A bigger issue that hit me personally was the lack of accurate research. The author chooses to bring in real life mobsters which is always a controversial choice. You have to be so amazingly diligent with your research when doing this and in this the author failed. I'm not talking about nit picky things that some will pick up on that I'm sure I missed because I never lived in New York (a few reviewers have mentioned streets that didn't exist at that time period, for example). These are all legitimate concerns with the novel - an author who chooses to make such mistakes can't be relied upon for the remainder of the story. My issue was a much bigger one that even an average reader will likely note: could there be more mentions of Al Capone? I mean, really, this got so tiresome. Vito is in NY and anyone who has done any nonfiction reading on the mafia knows that he would be answering to the likes of Luciano, Lansky and Costello and not Al Capone. Luciano and his family neither feared nor answered to Capone over in Chicago and most legitimate history books of the time will note how he was just a thorn in their side for his constant publicity. Even more damaging is the time period in question. 1934 is a big year for Vito and his family in the book and there are, again, numerous references to Capone coming out from Chicago and putting them in line. Well, even a quick google search will tell you that would simply be impossible. In 1932 Capone had his famous arrest for tax evasion and by 1934 has already been sent to Alcatraz. He wasn't even a blip on the radar anymore so the idea that he would influence any decisions in the NY mafia families borders on ridiculous.

The writing style was another thing that nagged me. It was clearly written with a screenplay in mind and this becomes more and more evident as the novel wears on. The first few chapters are much stronger in style: we are treated to inner thoughts, well written if sparse settings, and just a generally more flowing storyline. By midway, though, it degenerates into almost all dialogue. Even the descriptions of events are very timeline affected: he hits him, he bleeds, they clean their weapons and run away. Screenplay writing...not a novel. Visual yes but not a visual approach in the sense of a novel where we are taken through the tense emotions and regrets (or pleasure) such an event would cause. Will it transfer to the screen? Undoubtedly since it would require little rewriting to make it a screenplay. Does that make it great reading for a novel? Unfortunately, no.

Once I read a few chapters I sat back and realized that I should read this more as just another mafia novel than a novel about the Corleone family. And, as a standard mainstream mafia novel this book does well. Despite it's flaws, it has all the basic tenets the novels in this genre have. It neither stands out from the crowd nor falls below the norm: it's just another average entry into the thousands of similar titles already out there. For many, this is unacceptable. By attaching the Godfather name and its legacy it is expected to rise above the masses and that the pages inside don't meet that expectation will disappoint to many readers.

So, back to Paramount's original worries: will it mar the good name of the Corleone family? No. It doesn't add or subtract anything to the story. It just is sort of...there. Neither good nor bad and kind of irrelevant. Entertaining as a novel, flawed in execution but not nearly bad enough to cause some great harm to the original Godfather. Is it such a resounding success that it deserves a movie that will make Paramount tons of money? No. With the cost of movie making these days, this novel is just not one that will stand the test of time. It lacks the emotional ties that brought the original to life. The writing style would clearly make it easy to adapt to screen but this is not a new story or even a creative retelling of an old one. Again, it's just...there.

So, overall opinion? Enjoy this book as a mafia novel and not a part of the Godfather story you already know. If you can do that, it should be an entertaining read.
Profile Image for Harold.
358 reviews65 followers
September 12, 2015
I've been trying to be stingy with my 5 star reviews, saving them for something really great like Borges, but less than five for this book wouldn't do it justice. Generally my attitude towards an author continuing the work of an earlier author is somewhat jaundiced. It just ain't nothing like the real thing, baby. Mike Winegardner's Godfather continuation made me cringe and I never read the second one he wrote. No interest whatsoever. Ed Falco, on the other hand, shows a real understanding of the original characters and the atmosphere of the original novel.

In the book I read before this, The Lufthansa Heist, I took a shot at the author's use of Italian slang. Not so in this book. Falco's got it right.
Profile Image for Katie Bananas.
523 reviews
February 4, 2017
Madonna!!!!! I'm absolutely speechless!! WOW!!!! This is exceptional!!!

This is everything I wanted to read as an introduction to the Mafia and very well planned murder cases. The writing is extremely compelling and interesting that I read most of the book in the course of only two days. The chapters are well-deservingly long, they describe The Corleone Family and their attachés. It is a full novel, heavy with introductory murders of what's to come in The Godfather, I'm certain.

Ed Palco did an exceptional job at writing and describing intricately detailed characters, down to their dress, as well as describing the setting of each scene. It really did drive me nuts. The Mafia and their intricate planning and dealings were beyond amazing, I came to love and obsess over each of them.

He had so many hidden surprises, especially things I would never think of, as in the scene when Sonny had to kill Corks!!! I couldn't believe or even merely guess at the idea that this was possible, since they both knew each other at a young age. Palco approached it by a different and uncanny angle indeed. With Corks convinced that Sonny CANNOT kill him for how long and well they knew each other, Sonny revealed to him that Eileen, his sister is a whore, which Corks didn't appreciate of course. At the moment Corks jumped on Sonny to fight him, he got to Corks faster with his gun. He shot him in the heart and the bullet pierced his back.

I'm very excited that I finally read this introduction to dirty murder. The book had me guessing and constantly thinking without seize. It gathered all my emotions of anger and anxiety, as if I was with Mariposa and Vito, trying to find out who is my favorite to kill.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Bogdan Gavriliuc.
117 reviews12 followers
April 13, 2013
I love the universe painted by Puzo's vision. Even if it romanticizes violence, it shows some interesting relationships. One of my favorite relationships in literature has to be the one between Don Vito and Luca Brasi.

I particularly liked making connections to the Godfather (this being a prequel, it was interesting to see how things got to where they are). I also loved how all of the separate plots come together to culminate for the Corleones. I liked how the don had an internal fight with himself not being a gangster when being confronted by Sonny.
I also liked being immersed in the 30s. I know the way I see it is likely different than how it really was, but it's a nice picture.

My one complaint was that the climax at the end of the book was a bit of a let down. It's not a comment on the author, because it is what the don would have done, rather it's a complaint at how it had to be.

This is definitely worth the read if you're interested in finding out more details of the godfather universe.

Profile Image for J..
140 reviews3 followers
July 13, 2021
I had picked this book as my first Summer 2012 reading because well..it is The Godfather Saga and it was commissioned by the Puzo family. Big mistake. It was obviously written by an English teacher which is as tedious to read, as listening to a French teacher speaking French. The characters are limp and just silhouettes of the deep, interesting characters that Puzo and then Coppola created for our pleasure. Sonny is a slow witted, aggressive thug who hangs out with Irish punks. Luca is an animal (and the author plays into his storyline from the original book and not the movie as the book cover states). Most of the gore described (poorly) was unnecessary. This would have been fair fan fiction at best and the themes are copied directly from the works of Puzo and Coppola and show no creativity by the author.
Typically a book created to rob me of its purchase cost...let the buyer beware !
Profile Image for Σκουλάς Αλκιβιάδης.
Author 4 books30 followers
June 7, 2018
Απλά, perfetto!!! 👌👌👌
Μια υπόθεση με στοιχεία ρεαλισμού και ωμής βίας στην εποχή της "ποτοαπαγόρευσης", αλλά και με ιστορικές αναφορές σε γεγονότα και πρόσωπα όπως τον Αλ Καπόνε κ.α.
Όσο για την οικογένεια των "Κορλεόνε", ο συγγραφέας έχει δώσει μια σεβαστή και πιστή εντός εισαγωγικών αντιγραφή των χαρακτήρων, όπου γνωρίζουμε τον Βίτο Κορλεόνε στα σαράντα του, προτού γίνει ο Νονός των Νονών, τον θερμοκέφαλο γιο του, "Σάνι", όπου και ανυπομονεί να εισχωρήσει στις μπίζνες του πατέρα του, και τον μικρότερο γιο του "Μάικλ" σε ηλικία δεκατριών χρονών, στον οποίο ο Βίτο είχε εναποθέσει τις ελπίδες του για το καλύτερο δυνατό μέλλον της φαμίλιας, αλλά... όσοι έχουν διαβάσει την ιστορία ή έχουν δει τις ταινίες (τις οποίες και 'χω δει πάνω από 3 φορές 😜😎😉), γνωρίζουν πολύ καλά την εξέλιξη της ιστορίας! 😎😉😎
Profile Image for Megan.
258 reviews
April 6, 2016
Okay, but not great. This is the prequel to "The Godfather," which basically fills out the backstories that are given very short descriptions in the first book: how Vito Corleone and the Corleone family came to power; the war of "10 years ago" as described in the first book; how Sonny came into his father's business; and Luca Brasi's back story.

Apparently Mario Puzo wrote this as a screenplay, which Falco then turned into this novel. The first half of the book definitely reads like a screenplay: stilted dialogue with overuse of Mafia/gangland slang (e.g. in one paragraph there were 3 different words used for "tommy gun"), and underdeveloped descriptions of the actions occurring. This improved about half way through the book (no idea why), which helped readability, but not the overall enjoyment of this book. The biggest flaw is that the account given as to what Sonny witnesses Vito do that Sonny uses as leverage to get Vito to allow him into the "family" is substantially different in this book than in "The Godfather." I can't understand why Puzo/Falco did this -- it makes no logical sense to change what has already been described.

If you're tempted to read this book, don't. Instead, re-read "The Godfather." The descriptions of the events that are covered in more detail in "The Family Corleone" are more than adequately described in "The Godfather," and it's a far superior book.
Profile Image for Michael Twist.
Author 9 books33 followers
May 26, 2013
I was hesitant to accept the notion of another writer trying to carry on Mario Puzo's work and constantly found myself looking for weakness in Falco's writing, characterization, and flow. This soon proved fruitless, as Falco swept me into his storyline, filling in natural gaps and backstories that remained in Puzo and Coppola's brilliant portrayals of the Corleone family. A true student of the genre, and the Corleones in particular, Falco captures even the minutest of mannerisms and speech patterns that Godfather aficionados expect, even if only subconsciously. The reader is privy to a special variety of dramatic irony as we well know what lies ahead for the Don and his family, including Fredo, Tom, Sonny, Michael, and Connie. One can't help but to rearrange their Netflix queue in anticipation of allowing Falco's brilliant backstory to supplement the very savory main course involving the first two films, if not the third.
53 reviews
August 31, 2012
Being a tremendous Godfather fan, both the book & movies, I figured this was a no brainier read for me. Almost from the beginning, I regretted starting it. All I kept thinking was that the author was trying too hard. Characters, details, dialog all seems stiff and contrived, almost to the point of boring. It all seemed to be a hopeful set up for a "prequel" movie. At times a hard read, as his style seems choppy at best. The ending fell short and the book was wrapped up almost like a bad ending of a cheap melodrama on TV.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,300 reviews384 followers
December 25, 2020
Was looking for the first book The Godfather but found this instead. It was almost 10 years ago since I seen the movies and was worried I wouldn't get much out of this book. Had a good time with the book either way and I really want to get my hands on the first books now. It's an compelling story with some really interesting characters and not like the books I usually read.
Profile Image for Gary Schantz.
154 reviews3 followers
May 23, 2012
This book is spot-on as a prequel to The Godafather. So many characters are coming back to life with each page...you can picture them vividly only younger.

Since its based on a screenplay that Mario Puzo had written, its no wonder the book seems to be a wonderful complement to the original. Not only does this book round out the original story (by filling in the pieces that the film The Godfather Part II did not), it also makes The Godfather's Return and Revenge seem even more awful because the writing in this book very Puzo.

Awhile back, I wrote that I thought Mark Winegardner's books had their moments but after having read The Family Corleone...I see even moreso that Mark Winegardner was merely writing his books out of thin air as opposed to rounding out the original characters as older people. He simply didn't involve the original storylines enough and brought in way too many characters that I didn't care about. He basically left Puzo's style out of those books.

Anyhow, it's good to have the Corleones back.

Hopefully, there is one more book left that could possibly flesh out the end of the Corleones and fix the damage of not only Winegardner's books but The Godfather Part III as well.

It would be great to see Michael's son grow up not only to take over the family busines but to be the last one in the family business. Whether he dies, goes to prison or becomes a rat wouldn't matter so long as the story finally had a good ending. They might even call the book: Centanni - 100 years of the Corleones.
Profile Image for Phillip III.
Author 29 books173 followers
February 22, 2018
I wasn't sure what to expect with Edward Falco's The Family Corleone. Thing is, I have watched, and re-watched, and re-watched the trilogy, but have yet to read on of Puzo's novels. Why? No idea.

This, Falco's novel, being a prequel, seemed like a good place to start. It was my oldest son who read it first and handed it off to me. I am thrilled he did. I mean, eh-oh, oh-eh, this is my kind'a story. And I enjoyed every page.

It was cool seeing Sonny as a teenager, and Michael, and Fredo, and even baby Connie. The best was learning more about a more active and young Vito Corleone. Not to mention more rivalry between Vito and Giuseppe Mariposa (a major threat in The Godfather).

We get a nice origin tale of how Luca Brasi falls in under Vito (he was the guy at the beginning of the Godfather movie who, at the wedding reception, practices his Thank You Godfather lines over and over).

If you enjoy mob stories, and especially if you are NOT familiar with the Godfather, The Family Corleone is a perfect place to get started on what is, and perhaps always shall be, a legendary series (both as novels, and as epic movies).

Phillip Tomasso
Author of Absolute Zero
and Blood River
196 reviews2 followers
June 10, 2012
A handful of nice, satisfying moments, but all are completely derivative of the films, prior novels--to the point where he's describing scenes from the films, shot for shot. Add to that the fact that any actual invention--origins of Luca Brasi, death of Tom's father--is weird and forced, and this is one-star "fan fiction."
Profile Image for Donna.
3,901 reviews18 followers
March 25, 2019
I really enjoyed The Godfather. And while I can say that The Family Corleone isn't that, I still really liked this one. This one had a little different feel to it, but it worked for me. I loved the characters and the details not only regarding family life, but of loyalty and respect, whether it was right or wrong. That was the strongest link between the two books. I enjoyed this one.

I also listened to the audio and I loved the narrator. It was a fun 'listen'. So 4 stars.
Profile Image for Carlos.
56 reviews1 follower
September 22, 2022
Como gran conocedor y fanático de todo lo que rodea a la saga creada por Mario Puzo no podía dejar de leer esta novela. Como ya hiciera Mark Winegardner con dos novelas anteriormente, Ed Falco se adentra a recoger el testigo de una de las grandes series no ya solo de novela o el cine sobre mafia, sino de un fenómeno que se puede catalogar como cultural y un elemento de culto comparable en algunos aspectos con el universo Star Wars o Marvel, aunque con un toque algo más crudo.

En esta ocasión, Falco se basa en personajes principales de la historia de Puzo narrada en sus libros y en trilogía cinematográfica dirigida por Coppola, situándose en un momento anterior al inicio de la primera película pero ya con el negocio de Vito Corleone instaurado y en funcionamiento. En esto se diferencia de Winegardner, que utilizaba personajes ficticios añadidos que completaban algunas lagunas que la historia principal dejaba pasar, conectándolos con momentos singulares y sus protagonistas.

En concreto, esta novela se centra en Sonny Corleone, el hijo mayor del Don y en cómo da el salto para involucrarse en los negocios de su padre pese a la oposición de éste. Se trata de un aspecto muy interesante que en resto de la saga se dejaba intuir pero que nunca se había detallado. Lo mismo ocurre con otros personajes icónicos que tienen poco recorrido en los elementos anteriores, como Luca Brasi o Emilio Barzine, por ejemplo. Todo ello lo narra Falco con un estilo marcadamente cinematográfico, muy inspirado en la trilogía de películas y que muchas veces parecen basarse más en la imagen que en el aura que creó Puzo, aunque bien es cierto que respeta el conjunto y el todo de la obra (entendida la misma como la agrupación de toda la producción en la que participó Puzo) de una forma interesante pese a ser algo forzada en ocasiones.

La gran cuestión, en mi opinión, es ¿era necesario? ¿hacía falta una novela que narrara estos episodios de la familia Corleone? La respuesta corta es sin duda un no rotundo. Pese a respetar la obra de Puzo, como ya he dicho, algunos detalles son totalmente prescindibles y no casan con los personajes tal y como los entendemos, como las interacciones entre italianos e irlandeses, por ejemplo. Sin embargo he de añadir que para cualquier aficionado a esta saga siempre resulta interesante acercarse a una nueva perspectiva sobre esta temática, aunque nos pasemos la lectura refunfuñando entre dientes y criticando mentalmente algunos aspectos.
Profile Image for Clark  Isaacs.
43 reviews1 follower
May 18, 2012
Mario Puzo wrote “The Godfather” which is a modern classic that sold 21 million copies and evolved into the first two “Godfather” films directed by Francis Ford Coppola. These movies are widely considered two of the best movies of all time.

A prequel is a book, which antedates the original book and brings to life the development of the characters that made up the original story. Ed Falco an award-winning author who has written four story collections and three novels writes “The Family Corleone”. He has also penned nine plays in addition to poems, essays and book reviews. He is a professor of English at Virginia Tech where he directed the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing. This background fully qualifies him to capture the essence of the people who make up this Mafia family and describe their early years.
In 1933, the nation was changing from a prohibition era that created many opportunities for criminals to peddle illegal liquor at a high profit. Changes came to the way they were going to do business and the five Mafia families that controlled New York came to grips with how they would do business in the future. Vito Corleone, the Godfather, was patient in his approach to gaining control of the other families and had the foresight to know that careful planning was necessary to achieve his takeover.

Artists use broad-brush strokes when painting a picture to illustrate they have mastery over the entire canvas. Vito Corleone was not different. He created a scenario of bribery, which included Judges, Councilmen, and even the Mayor of New York. He was able by his illegal and legal profits to obtain favors, which he made available to the other Mafia families, thus he made himself invaluable to them.

During this early origin of the family, the children who will become the main characters of the movies and the book “The Godfather” grow up. Featuring the relationship between Sonny and his father, we see how control of many situations make Sonny a more calculating criminal rather than just being hot tempered. The other children are either too young or are in school getting educated.

Vito Corleone had ambitious dreams for his children, including Sonny, but Sonny at 17 was rambunctious and tried to strike out on his own. He organized his own gang of thugs who robbed another Don and stole his shipment of whiskey. Touching off a skirmish between the two families, Sonny and his gang found they had to stop being independent and come into the fold.

One of the interesting facets of this book is the use of Italian throughout. At first, the reader does not realize what the words mean. Ed Falco has treated us to an Italian language lesson by including a glossary at the back of the book that tells how to pronounce the words and what they mean.

Many of the scenes are not for the squeamish. Depicted in clear language is the gross killing of various characters throughout the book. Remember, these are not your loving and kindly meek people. They are rough and tough from the top, Vito, to the bottom Sonny!

Humor is interspersed along with some love scenes, though these are not that graphic. One funny incident involved a couple of scammers who attempted to outsmart Vito as he was constructing his family’s compound on Long Island. These two men showed up during construction and said they were going to inspect, free, the furnace installation. They proceeded to tear it apart and then tried to charge for reassembly. Vito told them he would send one of his men down to pay them their outrageous sum. Sonny wanted to fight them immediately, but Vito said that he would not have to since when his man got through with them, they would put it together free and apologize for the inconvenience. They did apologize and drove away in their van on three tires since the other one was tireless!

This is an excellent adult book from start to finish and seems to kindle once again how the five families in New York evolved into the Mafia. This is a five star book, which is highly recommended.
120 reviews4 followers
August 1, 2014
I began this book loving it. I am a huge Godfather fan. As a Bronx native, I loved the Arthur Ave and (especially) Tremont Ave mentions. However, it was soon apparent that this author has not the smooth storytelling ability of Puzo, and this book shouldn't have been sanctioned as part of the Godfather narrative.


I was curious at first that Luca Brasi had a personality. The film, of course, portrays him as a dimwit. Then, aha, his constant pill popping results in his brain damage.

Are you really supposed to feel sorry for Luca? For watching his father beat his mother (and kill her unborn child, though not his father's)? For killing his father? For killing his mother's lover? For the suffering after he ingested enough pills to kill a Cohoes Mastodon?

I understand that Luca is supposed to have incredible strength, but brutalizing someone who has been already captured is not the same as hunting them down.
He's eating an orange a la George Costanza eating an onion, peel and all, and you're supposed to believe he can hunt down an entire Irish gang, who KNOWS he's coming for them, and take them all out? It goes beyond suspending disbelief.

Ah, but he gets his in front of Guy Smiley Bruno Tattaglia, begorrah!

The Irish

So, Willie surprises Luca's gang and fires two guns and hardly does any damage. Then Sean, Pete, Rick, Billy, Stevie and Corr bombard Vito et al. at the parade and don't get their mark? Yes, they get Luca, who is wearing a bullet proof vest. Vito is atop a Corleone mountain and he doesn't get hit? Were the Irish equipped with muskets?

I suppose if we were being completely accurate, we'd have to admit that Irish gangs in NYC were all but nonexistent by the 1930s. Former mob guys like Bill Dwyer went into legitimate businesses.

Have you ever met an Irish person, Ed Falco? Stick to writing about Italians. Éirinn go Brách!


As much as Michael becomes the don and brings the Corleone empire to new levels, Vito is the one most people (ok, I) think of as Don Corleone. And that is why this dialog is not credible: "and if this all could have been blamed on the crazy Irish, because everyone knows that Italians would never endanger women and children, another man's innocent family." This doesn't sound like Vito. I had a hard time with all of Vito's dialog; Falco had difficulty putting a voice to him. He doesn't (or can't) believe this. Wasn't his own life threatened at age nine? Wasn't his mother killed by the mafia in Sicily? (Though she did have a knife to the Don's throat.) Tattaglia's prostitute? Applonia? Cork? Some of these haven't happened yet, however, fault lies with Mariposa/Barzini for the parade fiasco. I suppose they do endanger the lives of women and children.

Et Cetera.

Mariposa is really going to believe that Tessio comes to him after the parade fiasco. Ugh. He knew Pentangeli and Tits were traitors but couldn't tell Tessio was going to double cross him? More thought should have been put into that.

Why didn't Sonny offer money to Eileen for the death of her brother, when he knew Cork was innocent and had to kill him anyway, to save face? I found it mighty convenient that Mariposa's goon didn't kill Eileen's husband, rather Pete Murray did. Why would Mariposa allow the rumor that one of his men killed Jimmy Gibson just so he could "keep his thumb" on the Irish? Weak. Wouldn't this spark revenge?

The only bright spot was Frankie Pentangeli. With the great acting of Michael Gazzo in GF2, you could almost hear him saying some of his lines. I liked how he was always sitting backwards in a chair. It is so strange to know the end of that story, with Frankie and his family living in the house soon to be built for Vito, Frankie's conflict with the Rosato Brothers, his testimony, and suicide.

Finally, stop with the oranges, please. That made it fan fiction. Ooh, foreshadowing!
Profile Image for Mike.
302 reviews14 followers
May 30, 2012
The Family Corleone by Ed Falco (uncle of Edie Falco) started out as a film script by original "Godfather" author Mario Puzo. But after the disaster that was the third "Godfather" film, I can see why it was never made. Though I would also suspect that this novel is the first step towards getting the prequel film green-lit.

In "The Family Corleone," I see an attempt to go back to the roots of the Corleone saga and build on what people already know and love.

So...if you're a "Godfather" fan, you'll probably enjoy this book no matter what.

As I see it, these are the three main points of the book:

1) The story of Luca Brasi.
2) How Sonny Corleone became a gangster.
3) How Vito Corleone and the Corleone family rose to the top.

If any or all of those threads intrigue you, I advise you to check out the book.

Personally, I found Luca Brasi's story more interesting than much of the rest of the book. Luca is no one's idea of a hero, that's for sure. But he dies so early on in the Godfather film and novel, it was always a little hazy why everyone feared him the way they did. We got just a taste of Luca's madness in the first Godfather novel when the death of the infant in the furnace was discussed. Luca and his exploits get a large amount of focus in the first half of the book. Once he joins up with the Corleones, however, the focus is mostly off of him.

The story of how Sonny becomes a gangster is the emotional core of the book. He has a foot in two worlds and must inevitably choose which one he's going to live in. Does he keep pulling heists with his Irish best friend (and keep his affair with the best friend's sister a secret)? Or does he come clean about his criminal ways to his father, join "the family" and marry the nice Italian girl who is in love with him? Anyone who knows the story of "The Godfather" knows what choice Sonny makes.

One of my pet peeves with this book--as a non-Italian reader--were the nearly constant exclamations in Italian (wow...do I wish I knew about the glossary of terms that was there at the back of the book all along). I expected a certain amount of them--as would any Godfather fan--but along the way I felt the author was trying too hard to use these exclamations to set the mood rather than work a little harder on the surrounding characters and plot.

Overall, I found the writing in "The Corleone Family" to be fairly average and not too exciting or noteworthy. If you have the characters in your head already from the films or the other books or novelizations, the author doesn't have to work as hard to explain them to the reader. And he doesn't. Nearly every major and minor character from the novel makes an appearance. Knowing what fate has in store for them--like Paulie Gatto and Lucy Mancini, for example--and seeing them in this novel as children is a bit surreal.

There is tragedy aplenty for all concerned in "The Family Corleone". While the Corleone "family" eventually rises to prominence in this novel, most of the characters you've never heard of before pay for that rise with their blood and pain.

But "The Corleone Family" did hold my attention. And when I was reading it on public transportation, I nearly missed my stop more than once, if that tells you anything.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
3 reviews
September 26, 2016

I am writing this report for Ms. Orona's English IV class. The novel i read this six weeks is “The Family Corleone” by Ed Falco. It includes 431 pages and is published by Grand Central. The Reason i decided to read this book is because i'm fascinated by the era and i particularly picked this one because i love the concept of the Mafia subject and the family whose in it.
The main characters in this novel is Vito Corleone and his sons Sonny and Tom. They’re the main characters in the book because the story rotates to their side of the book. Explaining their thoughts and situations. Some other characters in the book would be Luca Brasi, he is a key role in the novel because the Corleone boys have business with this man. And Genco Abbandando, Peter Clemenza, and Salvatore Tessio are Vito Corleone's’ crew.
The novel is a Crime book and takes place in New York in 1933 during the Great Depression and the coming end of the prohibition. The book is about the family Corleone business. Vito Corleone does not want his children to follow his footsteps into the family business and the dangers of it, but worries for his eldest son Sonny who's a hot headed seventeen year old boy who plans to follow his father's footsteps.
My final thoughts on “The family Corleone” are that it's a great book to me and especially to the trilogy. A good keypoint to this book is that it's a thrill and you get eager to read more. A bad keypoint to this book would be that it adds more characters as you go and it adds more and more to the story. This book is great and I like it because it's a great read in a great era about a powerful family. You also can learn a little bit of italian in this novel and you also learn that family is really important. I recommend others read this novel especially if you're into the idea of mafias and the subject. I would also recommend if you read this book read the whole trilogy.
Profile Image for Jevron McCrory.
Author 1 book65 followers
February 23, 2016
This really wasn't all that and I'm disappointed.

This read like a Sopranos fan turned loose into the far more subtle and restrained world of the Corleones (a first impression confirmed by the multiple Soprano character surnames that pop up throughout the novel) and while there's bloodshed and Italian idioms aplenty, there's none of Puzo's grandiose elegance, understated sentiment and luxurious prose.

Mario Puzo, Ed Falco is not.

I'd love to know just how much of Puzo's un-produced screenplay makes up this book because from start to finish, the story didn't sit right with me at all. Not even mentioning the fact that the book contradicts FACTS established in The Godfather (I thought Capone's second gunman choked to death on his rag in fear after watching Luca Brasi dismember his partner?! Here, he begs to live to pass on a message).

The novel is clunky and defunct and a little devoid of the much needed elegance that Puzo so effortlessly brought to his stories. It's obvious Falco relished the chance to pilot such iconic characters but it's obvious he doesn't quite understand the depth and mystery of such personas.

Comparing Falco to Puzo is like comparing Rattner to Kubrick.

Or should that be Coppola?
Profile Image for Ramon van Dam.
346 reviews4 followers
September 18, 2020
Oof, what a way to abuse someone else's characters. Mark Winegardner showed with his two entries in the saga that other writers besides Mario Puzo can do them justice, but Ed Falco missed the mark with this one in my opinion.

The Family Corleone definitely has its moments, but I was regularly put off by how characters we've gotten to know and love feel so different this time around. The story is a prequel to the original novel and tells us how the Corleones became a big family, as well as the more personal stories of Sonny and Luca Brasi.

I've always been impressed by the writing of Puzo, especially how he emphasized the importance of the motivations and inner workings of your characters. Falco partially attempts the same, but felt the need to just add in lots of scenes with gruesome violence. When we learned in the original novel from Michael why Luca is such a big menace it was something to think about, here he just kills and mutilates everybody.

All in all I wouldn't say this is a terrible book; the overarching story is mostly interesting and I'd give it 2.5 stars in a more fine-grained system. It way just a disappointment after having read so many great books in this franchise.
Profile Image for Frank.
327 reviews72 followers
May 19, 2016
This, a prequel, is really a book about James Caan Sonny Corleone and Luca Brasi. There is no build-up of a mythic character like Vito Corleone, as there was in The Godfather. Vito is here, in this book, but if you read this before Godfather, you would not be impressed by him.

Sonny's character doesn't make for much of a story. He is just a hot-headed kid who fearlessly commits thefts and who wants to be part of the family business.

Luca Brasi makes the story interesting because he is so psychopathic! It is for his innate evil and cleverness that I gave the book 4 stars.

It is obvious that the character descriptions were written with the movie actors in mind. The description of Sal Tessio could easily be a description of Abe Vigoda. The same for Luca Brasi- while there was no physical description of him in The Godfather, there is one of him in this book, and the description fits the actor that played him in The Godfather only too well.

I recommend you read this, but after you read The Godfather.

Profile Image for Lucas Bellator.
22 reviews21 followers
July 2, 2017

With that being said, The Family Corleone is a slow starter. The first few chapters take you on a ride into a land of a long time ago, to the Great Depression and Vito Corleone.

I have to say the author managed to reproduce that
vibe: it felt like 1934. A young Sonny racing around doing stuff was amazing. The characters had life on them.

It's not a perfect book, and the edition I read even had some spelling errors. Sometimes a character would be written when he couldn't be. Towards the end the prose paced a bit, not in a good way.

Anyhow, it's a very solid addition to the Corleone mythology. The backstory created for Luca Brasi is as tragic as they can be, and a powerful one.

It's a wild ride with a strong climax.
Worth it!
Profile Image for Dick Reynolds.
Author 15 books37 followers
September 10, 2013
The entire Corleone Family is here: Don Vito, his children Sonny, Michael, Fredo, Connie and adopted son, Tom Hagen. We also have the fearful Luca Brasi, Clemenza, Barzini, and a host of other "businessmen" who are trying to muscle in on the Don's turf, lurking in the shadows.
I'm giving up on this one after about 70 pages because it reads like a screenplay. Well, it should because the movie which I saw recently is so much like the book that there are no surprises. I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt at 3 stars. If you haven't seen the movie, it should be a good read.
Profile Image for Nathaniel Rayestu.
29 reviews21 followers
May 2, 2013
As a prequel to the Godfather, The Family Corleone really did Mario Puzo justice. It is a story about family as much as it is about crime or the Mafia. Tells the story about the young Santino, the early life of Luca Brasi, the Mafia War and all that. I enjoyed reading this just as much as I did the original novel and Puzo's quasi-sequel The Sicilian. This book is a must read for all Godfather fans.
Profile Image for Fred Klein.
521 reviews19 followers
August 26, 2021
This is a supposed prequel to "The Godfather". Whether you want to accept it as a prequel or not is up to you. It's supposedly based on a script by Mario Puzo.

This novel mostly focuses on Santino "Sonny" Corleone, showing how he came to join his father's business, and Luca Brasi, showing what a psychopath he was and how he also became part of the Corleone family. There are also cameos by many characters from the original novel and the movie. I don't believe the Rosato brothers and Frank Pentangeli were in the novel, only the movie sequel, so it was cool to see them as part of the action.

There was much about this novel that was truly annoying. The first is that there were inconsistencies from the original novel. It's been a while since I've read "The Godfather", but I remember that, in a flashback, we learned that Sonny found out what kind of man his father was because he saw him kill Fanucci. In this prequel, he witnesses something completely different.

In the original novel, there was a description about how Luca Brasi killed two of Al Capone's men, but the account of how the second man died is inconsistent here. I think that if there was going to be a prequel, it had to fit what we were told in the original novel, and that annoys me.

What's also annoying is how many new characters are introduced and how hard it is to keep track of them, when what I really wanted was more of the Corleone family. After all, it's called "The Family Corleone".

Finally, keeping in mind that I understand that Luca Brasi is supposed to be a psychopath, there's one incident in this book that is just too repulsive, involving syphilitic discharge. I don't believe it was in the original novel, but I'll be rereading that soon, so I'll see.
Profile Image for Nikola Jankovic.
550 reviews109 followers
March 15, 2016
Kum u formi romana je bio jako prijatno iznenađenje. Očekivao sam da je to jedna od retkih knjiga koja neće moći da priđe filmu, ali je bio uzbudljiv za čitanje - čak i kad ti je jasno šta se, kada i kome dešava. Jedan od boljih romana koje sam pročitao u 2015. i razlog što sam uzeo da čitam Porodicu Korleone.

Drugi razlog je bio Luka Brazi, koji je mnogo interesantnija i brutalnija ličnost u romanu i koji mi je na taj način postao jedan od fascinantnijih likova. Želeo sam više o njemu - ko je taj čovek, kako je postao strah i trepet i kako je Vito pridobio njegovu bezuslovnu vernost. Kum samo dotiče te teme...

Na žalost, Porodica Korleone ostaje na tom nivou - i što se tiče Luke, a i ostalih likova. Daleko je od duboke karakterizacije koju nam je doneo Puzo. A ni sama akcija nije puno bolja. Knjiga je uatvari scenario za film - opis radnje i dijalog - a to je nešto što kod romana ne cenimo...

Sve u svemu, proširenje priče o Korleonovima, ali ništa naročito i nešto bez čega sam mogao preživeti. Verovatno bi bilo bolje da sam pročitao Sicilijanca...

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