Mario Puzo: The Family (Book Review)

Mario Puzo, The Family, Book Review

I don’t even know where to begin with this book except maybe with a round of applause for Mr. Puzo. Opening with a rigged papal election, this is a beautifully woven story that juxtaposes the purity and piety of religion with the moral failings of the men tasked with upholding God’s will on earth.

From the very beginning, you will fall in love with the very charismatic Pope Alexander VI and completely relate to the love he has for his children (yes, this Pope has children as he lived at a time when celibacy in the church wasn’t strictly enforced). His deep and bottomless affection for his offspring coupled with his love for the finer things in life and the power to obtain them, creates a papacy that falls short of God’s expectations for His church.

Bribery, murder and even incest are part of this crazy story that is the fictionalized life of Rodrigo Borgia, aka, Pope Alexander VI. The whole time I was reading it, I kept thinking that although the story was great, and I could clearly see the motivations that made good people behave badly, there was no possible way that the events in this book could ever be based in reality. How surprised was I when I got to the end of the book and discovered that Pope Alexander VI and his crazy family were real characters! They actually existed! Yes, Puzo filled in a lot of the gaps in their lives with this huge, dramatic story but he wasn’t wrong when he called the Borgias ‘the original crime family’. They are a stellar example of the saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Mario Puzo worked on this book for twenty years and after his passing, his long-time girlfriend Carol Gino finished this book that meant so much to the two of them. You get a sense that Alexander and his children were very dear to the authors…characters that they came to know and love as they researched their story and committed it to paper. The Family is definitely a master read.


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