GODMOTHER by Anthony Mancini


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 The title is only half right: this sturdy distaff Godfather (Godfather II is actually a closer model) broadens out, in the sequel of the Godmother's son, to ape an even more venerable literary model. When a quarrel over the family honor leaves both her parents dead back in Miseno, teenaged Maria Croce Falcone, already married to one man and pregnant by another (a smooth-faced priest), leaves one day in 1920 for America, where she'll counter more of the same kinds of threats--from her beloved brother-in-law Claudio's brutal foreman; the blackmailing padrone who impregnates her with a second son; the rivalry, after she starts to sell her homemade brandy and grappa, of other bootleggers on the Lower East Side--with street-smart confidence and dispatch (she keeps the padrone's pickled privates in a canning jar). It looks like another routine jaunt through the roaring 20's for Mancini (Talons, 1991, etc.). But as the Falcone fortunes change with the 1950 ordination of Maria's son Angelo, so does the mode of the story, as accelerating allegorical details add a note of unintentionally hectic comedy. During his brief three-year ministry (which is initiated by the gift of his cousin Johnny's severed head), Angelo is launched on a political career by that fisher of men, Simon Fisher (who'll later deny him at his arraignment); tempted by fallen Lena Morales, who washes his feet and dries them with her hair; put on the spot by Jewish rival Herbert Koenig; betrayed by his old pal Junior Scario for 30 shares of a silver mine; arrested by hand-washing prosecutor Roman Pyle, whose wife had a nasty dream about a priest; and finally laid to rest after his body disappears from the morgue. Mario Puzo and the Synoptic Gospels: it doesn't get any tackier than this.

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 1993
ISBN: 1-55611-376-5
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Donald Fine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1993