Saturday, 28 June 2014

Wedding Special: The Godfather by Mario Puzo

published 1969





The wedding of Miss Constanzia Corleone [was] celebrated on the last Saturday in August 1945. The father of the bride, Don Vito Corleone, never forgot his old friends and neighbours though he himself now lived in a huge house on Long Island. The reception would be held in that house and the festivities would go on all day. There was no doubt it would be a momentous occasion. The war with the Japanese had just ended… A wedding was just what people needed to show their joy. And so on that Saturday morning the friends of Don Corleone streamed out of New York City to do him honour…



There were, now, hundreds of guests in the huge garden, some dancing on the wooden platform bedecked with flowers, others sitting at long tables piled high with spicy food and gallon jugs of black, homemade wine. The bride, Connie Corleone, sat in splendour at a special raised table with her groom, the maid of honour, bridesmaids and ushers. It was a rustic setting in the old Italian style…

Connie Corleone was a not quite pretty girl, thin and nervous… But today, transformed by her white bridal gown and eager virginity, she was so radiant as to be almost beautiful. Beneath the wooden table her hand rested on the muscular thigh of her groom. Her Cupid-bow mouth pouted to give him an airy kiss.



observations: Last year Mario Puzo’s essay The Making of the Godfather featured on the blog, and the entry should be consulted for my important views on how the book works. One of the things I said was: It is a great American story, with a superb moral framework, and what is says about American history, immigration, and attitudes is well-worth reading, and will remain so for a long time.

The long opening chapter about the Sicilian wedding in Long Island is an object lesson in how to set up a story, how to introduce your characters, and how to get all your plot strands moving. Puzo’s writing is not literary, but it has a tremendous onward force, and his structure is superb.

For EW and TH, on their own wedding day 

The photos above are from Perry Photography and used with her kind permission: you can see more of her pictures at Flickr, or at her website weddingsinitalytuscany. Her wonderful photos have featured on the blog many times before.


11 comments:

  1. Moira - I agree that Puzo had a brilliant idea to set the novel up within the context of the wedding. Such a great way to build up the characters and so on. And the atmosphere is terrific too. As you say, this novel has a lot to say about immigration, culture and many other things too. That said though, it can also be richly enjoyed for its plot and characters.

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    1. I've read it several times, and each time I'm impressed by how well-structured it is. And the films are wonderful too...

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  2. I still haven't read the essay, The Making of the Godfather, but I will. I will read the book too; maybe next year. Just added it to my list for the book sale. Although no matter how many times I go, there is never enough time to look at all the books.

    Lovely photos. Especially the black and white in the middle.

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    1. Thanks Tracy, I love that dress and picture. And I hope you find the book at the book sale. It is a long one, but you can get through it very quickly, it is such a page-turner.

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    2. It seems like a book that needs the length. Actually I am getting more comfortable reading my one long novel a month, especially when I pick one I have been wanting to read.

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    3. As you know, I'm not a great one for excessive length myself, but this is one of the cases where I can't object...

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  3. Moira: I loved the book. I loved the movie. Each was rich in visual detail that enhanced the story. Connie is a lovely bride on a day filled with subtle exchanges of obligations and favours.

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    1. Yes exactly Bill, you sum it up perfectly.

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  4. Moira at last! This one is waiting on the pile, along with a few of his other books.

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    1. I hope you'll get there soon, would love to hear your opinion. I think you'll like it. Have you seen the film(s)?

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    2. Err, not yet. I've had the box set for a couple of years, but haven't yet watched them. I don't think my girls would go for them, but my wife could be persuaded........not enough hours in the day!

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