Days of our Lives!

December 4, 2006

Book Review: The Godfather Returns – Mark Winegardner

Filed under: Books — Santhosh @ 5:47 PM
Book Name: The Godfather Returns
Author: Mark Winegardner
Genre: Fiction
The trouble is that the Godfather is absent in more than half the pages. We are made to read through what Michael’s henchman’s father-in-law likes in ‘that old widow’. The entire novel gives a feeling of the author trying to cash in on the original novel’s fame by explaining in excruciating detail what had happened at parts in the original – such as Tessio’s execution, Carlo Rizzi’s murder, Connie accusing Michael and then having to understand, Hagen being moved out as consigliere.
He’s tried too hard to make sure that this version becomes a bestseller and lives up to the tag of the original. None of the finesse of Puzo is present. In being with the times, Winegardner has even tried to make the style of writing humourous at times. Never would Puzo have tried to bring in humour in the dialogues. Maybe a bit of dry humour thrown in here and there, but it was always intelligent.
The Godfather was old world. It had a romantic antiquity about it. Honour, above all else. An old world charm. This sequel absolutely murders that. It can’t be felt more than when you learn that Don Vito Corleone’s widow is engaged. NO! The romantic image of a Kay Adams pining for Michael to return from Sicily goes for a toss when she says she had a passionate affair with her history professor. The image of Don Vito being ice cool with nerves of steel is dealt with with the help of passages that say he “wailed like a baby” and “whimpered like a sod”. Johnny Fontane is brought across as the ungrateful, conceited superstar who forgets home.
Michael is portrayed as this faulty but brilliant, far-sighted but confused, professional but timid Godfather. The charm portrayed in the original is missed. In the end he’s portrayed as this anti-hero trying to hold on to his powers but also wanting to get into legal businesses. He gives the job of underboss to Fredo just to make sure Fredo doesn’t get big in life and there’s no one to question him. He’s portrayed as being selfish to the core and even murders Fredo and the good doctor Jules Segal.
Maybe The Godfather Returns would be a decent read if it is taken as a one-off. But then Winegardner has himself ensured that it won’t be. At every turn, he has tried to hang on to the trail of the original, even in the design of the book cover. A sacrilege to Puzo’s memory.
My Rating: 2/5
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