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The Barnes & Noble Review After a visit to the Vatican in 1983, Mario Puzo, bestselling author of The Godfather and Omerta , "was so enchanted by the look, the feel and food of Italy, so taken by its history," Carol Gino explains, "that he wanted to write a novel about it." Nearly 20 years in the making, The Family is that novel. Set in Rome in the last years of the 1 The Barnes & Noble Review After a visit to the Vatican in 1983, Mario Puzo, bestselling author of The Godfather and Omerta , "was so enchanted by the look, the feel and food of Italy, so taken by its history," Carol Gino explains, "that he wanted to write a novel about it." Nearly 20 years in the making, The Family is that novel. Set in Rome in the last years of the 15th century, Puzo's final book (completed by Gino, his companion for many years) is an absorbing, highly entertaining, fictional account of the rise and rule -- and eventual fall -- of that notorious first family of dysfunction during the Renaissance, the Borgias. Fast-paced and well researched, The Family -- in its effort to make such scandalous characters as the Borgias more human -- may well be the most ambitious novel of Puzo's career. Cardinal Roderigo Borgia is charismatic and handsome, a born leader and a perfidious man of the cloth who ascends to the papacy as Pope Alexander VI in 1492, when Italian city-states are competing for land and the Vatican is competing for souls. He is also the loving father of four children, two of whom become pawns in their father's implacable drive for power. Cesare, Roderigo's oldest son, grows from an insecure cardinal to a fierce military leader; and Lucrezia, Roderigo's beautiful, seductive daughter -- and her father's favorite (not to mention her brother's incestuous bedmate) -- becomes the marriage link that unites nations and divides hearts. Throughout Roderigo's wheeling and dealing, the Renaissance is in full swing as religion competes against humanism and the Church seeks autonomous control of what will one day become a united Italy. As in E. L. Doctrow's Ragtime and Glen David Gold's Carter Beats the Devil, historical figures pepper the narrative. Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Leonardo da Vinci (whose military inventions help Cesare kick some serious tail), and Ferdinand and Isabella all make guest appearances, though at times they seem more like window dressing than actual characters. While this blood-is-thicker-than-water tale is more summative than explorative (you don't really get into the heads of the Borgias as well as you do the Corleones), Puzo still knows how to tell a good story. The Family is an energetic novel, filled with enthusiasm and affection for the subject matter and the characters. Puzo's swan song may not be his finest work, but it is a robust, passionate love letter to a land, a history, and a culture that defined him as a writer and a man. (Stephen Bloom)


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The Barnes & Noble Review After a visit to the Vatican in 1983, Mario Puzo, bestselling author of The Godfather and Omerta , "was so enchanted by the look, the feel and food of Italy, so taken by its history," Carol Gino explains, "that he wanted to write a novel about it." Nearly 20 years in the making, The Family is that novel. Set in Rome in the last years of the 1 The Barnes & Noble Review After a visit to the Vatican in 1983, Mario Puzo, bestselling author of The Godfather and Omerta , "was so enchanted by the look, the feel and food of Italy, so taken by its history," Carol Gino explains, "that he wanted to write a novel about it." Nearly 20 years in the making, The Family is that novel. Set in Rome in the last years of the 15th century, Puzo's final book (completed by Gino, his companion for many years) is an absorbing, highly entertaining, fictional account of the rise and rule -- and eventual fall -- of that notorious first family of dysfunction during the Renaissance, the Borgias. Fast-paced and well researched, The Family -- in its effort to make such scandalous characters as the Borgias more human -- may well be the most ambitious novel of Puzo's career. Cardinal Roderigo Borgia is charismatic and handsome, a born leader and a perfidious man of the cloth who ascends to the papacy as Pope Alexander VI in 1492, when Italian city-states are competing for land and the Vatican is competing for souls. He is also the loving father of four children, two of whom become pawns in their father's implacable drive for power. Cesare, Roderigo's oldest son, grows from an insecure cardinal to a fierce military leader; and Lucrezia, Roderigo's beautiful, seductive daughter -- and her father's favorite (not to mention her brother's incestuous bedmate) -- becomes the marriage link that unites nations and divides hearts. Throughout Roderigo's wheeling and dealing, the Renaissance is in full swing as religion competes against humanism and the Church seeks autonomous control of what will one day become a united Italy. As in E. L. Doctrow's Ragtime and Glen David Gold's Carter Beats the Devil, historical figures pepper the narrative. Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Leonardo da Vinci (whose military inventions help Cesare kick some serious tail), and Ferdinand and Isabella all make guest appearances, though at times they seem more like window dressing than actual characters. While this blood-is-thicker-than-water tale is more summative than explorative (you don't really get into the heads of the Borgias as well as you do the Corleones), Puzo still knows how to tell a good story. The Family is an energetic novel, filled with enthusiasm and affection for the subject matter and the characters. Puzo's swan song may not be his finest work, but it is a robust, passionate love letter to a land, a history, and a culture that defined him as a writer and a man. (Stephen Bloom)

30 review for The Family

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mizuki

    But della Rovere frowned and said, "Heed my warning, Guido Feltra. He's full of the devil, this son of the church." (page. 34) By the way, when I read this book, I kept missing the Cantarella manga series by You Higuri, which takes a fantasy approach when dealing with the Borgia Family and its many schemes. Plus the Cesare Borgia and Don Michelotto in the manga are total hot guys, Lucrezia Borgia is such a darling in this narration. XD https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantare... If you are interested But della Rovere frowned and said, "Heed my warning, Guido Feltra. He's full of the devil, this son of the church." (page. 34) By the way, when I read this book, I kept missing the Cantarella manga series by You Higuri, which takes a fantasy approach when dealing with the Borgia Family and its many schemes. Plus the Cesare Borgia and Don Michelotto in the manga are total hot guys, Lucrezia Borgia is such a darling in this narration. XD https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantare... If you are interested in reading about the court intrigues, assassination and warfare in the Italian Renaissance period, The Family, the last novel by Mario Puzo (finished by his long time girlfriend after his death) would be much to your taste. The Borgia Family has long been duded as 'the original crime family' and who else is more suitable to write about them than the master author of Mafia, Mr. Puzo himself? For most of the time I'm satisfied with what Mr. Puzo had to offer: the power plays within The Holy Mother Church, a badass Pope who dealt out death, assassination and other nasty treatments to his foes (and he had many!), the good old Pope's active and colorful sex life with his handful of mistresses (and these women were pretty capable and charming themselves), the rivalry among the Pope's four children, the warfare among the Italian states (lot of battles, alliances and vendetta!) and last but certainly not least, the infamous incest! (and those siblings are full-blooded siblings in the story, mind you.) Alright, I was shell shocked by Mr. Puzo's plot twist about (view spoiler)[Pope Alexander VI actively encouraging his son and daughter to commit incest (for some reason the Pope thought it will strengthen the sense of loyalty and bond within the family!) and actually bear witness of his children's first coupling, I think it is going too far and too far-fetched even when the Borgia Family's reputation is put into consideration (hide spoiler)] . There are a good plenty of shocking events in this novel and I like how Mr. Puzo laid out for us the complicated family saga through a long period of time (roughly 30+ years) so effectively and always filled his story with a faint sense of irony and humor. I also like how these members of the infamous Borgia Family act and think like people with their own wits, sense of loyalty, definition of justice and flaws instead of being demonized into a bunch of 'they are evil!' cardboard cutouts. Among the crew, Pope Alexander VI and his second son Cesare Borgia were the central characters and I have to admit our good old Pope was the most charming one here (he is so freaking badass that he is at the same level with Don Corleone!) In Mr. Puzo's opinion, Cesare was 'a patriot who decided to become a hero' and he did have his many impressive victories during his life time to show for his talents although I don't think his character manage to standout as much as his father. As to Lucrezia Borgia, the young woman who suffered the most from her family's bad reputation and scandals, I do like how her personality is formed and how she learnt her life-lessons through the story's progress. This novel certainly motivates me to learn more about the history of the intriguing Borgia Family, will look more into it later. My review for Borgia (comic): https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... My review for Blood and Beauty: The Borgias https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alice Poon

    A few years ago I read Sarah Dunant’s Blood & Beauty, which I found to be an engaging read with atmospheric settings. So, going into The Family, I was already familiar with the Borgia family and other historical characters and the Italian Renaissance background. This novel was the author’s last piece of fictional work and he died before the manuscript was finished. The book was released posthumously. The manuscript was completed by Carol Gino, the author’s companion. The style of writing is down t A few years ago I read Sarah Dunant’s Blood & Beauty, which I found to be an engaging read with atmospheric settings. So, going into The Family, I was already familiar with the Borgia family and other historical characters and the Italian Renaissance background. This novel was the author’s last piece of fictional work and he died before the manuscript was finished. The book was released posthumously. The manuscript was completed by Carol Gino, the author’s companion. The style of writing is down to earth and lucid from start to finish. I could not tell at which point the change of authorship takes place. In some parts it seems the author is so zealous in trying to present the fatherly side of Rodrigo Borgia that it comes across as forced, especially when his cruel and calculating plans using his children as pawns speak much louder. It seems to me that this character often tries to rationalize his ambitions, greed and lust by pretending that these are not contradictory to his religious faith. But understandably, under the immense political pressures that come from sovereign states and papal states alike, above all, from his archrival Cardinal della Rovere who constantly breathes down his neck, he has his reasons to scheme and plot. Cesare Borgia is portrayed to be vengeful, ultra ambitious and wicked, but then his sexual obsession with his sister Lucrezia is made out to be his only redeeming trait, which is no redeeming trait at all. Lucrezia is perhaps the least deranged of the Borgias. Her character is also the most credible. All in all, it was a good read. I’m giving it 3.5 stars, rounded up.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Draven

    This book was on its way to being a 4 or even 5 star book for me when I first began and while I still enjoyed The Family overall, by the end, I could not shake a distinct sense of dissatisfaction. In the beginning, the book fulfilled all it promised the reader it would be. It was lush with grandeur and decadence. The characters were intricate and detailed, with the specific sort of nuances only Mario Puzo could provide, the nuances that made a reader invest in a character, love them, in spite of This book was on its way to being a 4 or even 5 star book for me when I first began and while I still enjoyed The Family overall, by the end, I could not shake a distinct sense of dissatisfaction. In the beginning, the book fulfilled all it promised the reader it would be. It was lush with grandeur and decadence. The characters were intricate and detailed, with the specific sort of nuances only Mario Puzo could provide, the nuances that made a reader invest in a character, love them, in spite of all their garish sins, something quite necessary when relating a tale about the infamous Borgia family. However, as strong as it started, it just as quickly devolved. Puzo passed away before he could complete his work and The Family was completed by Carol Gino. While I'm loathe to blame the dual authorship for the books inconsistenticies, for Gino deserves a thank you for completing the work so that we could experience Puzo's final vision, I honestly feel that the dual voices were in the end the problem. While I don't know for certain where Puzo left off before his passing, around the midway point, the story began to dissolve into one exaggerated scheme after another. Pivotal characters suddenly disappeared for long periods of time, while secondary characters suddenly became the masterminds behind the entire plot. It's as if, in the face of uncertainty regarding the final destination of the story, it was decided that it was best to do more rather than less, exploit every possibly sin and crime laid against this family historically, even if it didn't make complete sense with where the story started. All nuance and character depth was sacrificed in the name of shock value and by the end of the book, there wasn't time left in the characters life historically, to do their story justice. A disappointing end to a beginning with so much spectacular potential.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Natasa

    This book is a very different, very intimate, very compelling look at the Borgia family. The unapologetic and sympathetic manner in which the author depicts the passion between Cesare and Lucrezia may horrify some readers, but others will find it moving and tender.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tres Trece

    where the heck was Jofre at the end???? I HAD A FULL ENDING FOR HIM!! It's a shame. My favorite characters are usually secondaries... where the heck was Jofre at the end???? I HAD A FULL ENDING FOR HIM!! It's a shame. My favorite characters are usually secondaries...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steve Donoghue

    Years ago, when rumors of this book - in which "Godfather" author Mario Puzo tells the story of the notorious Renaissance Borgia family - I told an old friend I was worried that when I read it, I wouldn't be able to stop giggling at how silly it would be. My old friend patiently reminded me that ALL of Puzo's novels are giggle-inducingly silly. True enough, but "The Family" is special. " 'I'll help you finish the Borgia book,' [Puzo's collaborator Carol Gino] offered one day in 1995, after we'd Years ago, when rumors of this book - in which "Godfather" author Mario Puzo tells the story of the notorious Renaissance Borgia family - I told an old friend I was worried that when I read it, I wouldn't be able to stop giggling at how silly it would be. My old friend patiently reminded me that ALL of Puzo's novels are giggle-inducingly silly. True enough, but "The Family" is special. " 'I'll help you finish the Borgia book,' [Puzo's collaborator Carol Gino] offered one day in 1995, after we'd spent a particularly interesting day talking about the nature of love, relationships, and betrayal. 'I don't collaborate until after I'm dead,' he said, smiling at me. 'Okay,' I said. 'But then what do I do with an unfinished book?' I sounded calmer than I felt. He laughed at me. 'Finish it,' he said." And so, here we are: a breathless, hurtling novel about the Borgia Pope and his children and their various intrigues. Nobody has ever succeeded in making the Borgias more interesting in fiction than they are in actual history, and Puzo & Gino don't succeed either. But as long as you're OK having quite a bit of, um, cazzate mixed in with your historical fiction, you'll find this mighty entertaining.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Val

    This book makes you want to know everything about the Borgias. It is really well narrated, and the story becomes so intriguing that it is impossible to stop reading. Just as The Godfather, the head of the family (Rodrigo Borgia, later Pope Alexandre VI) is an ambicious and powerful man, who doesnt have any doubts to get rid of anybody who dares to stand on his way. But, after all, he is a family man. He loves his children, specially Lucretia and Giovanni, who seems to be his weak point. Anyway i This book makes you want to know everything about the Borgias. It is really well narrated, and the story becomes so intriguing that it is impossible to stop reading. Just as The Godfather, the head of the family (Rodrigo Borgia, later Pope Alexandre VI) is an ambicious and powerful man, who doesnt have any doubts to get rid of anybody who dares to stand on his way. But, after all, he is a family man. He loves his children, specially Lucretia and Giovanni, who seems to be his weak point. Anyway it doesnt stop him from arranging Lucretia's marriages to whom he considered the best alliances to make, and forcing her to obbey him. Cesar Borgia, in my oppinion, is one of those characters you will hardly forget. He loves and hates with the same intensity. He is an innate warrior and fights for the chance to chose his own destiny over his father's plans for him. The story is based in true facts with a fictional surrounding, and it reveals a great deal of corruption in the Vatican of the Renassaince. It can be a story of betrayal, violence, corruption and crime, but above all, it is a story of love. Love in every gruesome and twisted way, but love after all.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jason Golomb

    This book had the makings of something special. The Borgias are an original mob family. Instead of owning a territory or even a city...they owned nations and religions. In the hands of Puzo? WOW! I don't know at which point Puzo stopped writing and Carol Gino picked up. I can only guess that Puzo didn't get very far and/or the editors made a terrible mess of what was left. The story has absolutely no depth, and the characters have even less. The story, if one can call this narrative a 'story', is This book had the makings of something special. The Borgias are an original mob family. Instead of owning a territory or even a city...they owned nations and religions. In the hands of Puzo? WOW! I don't know at which point Puzo stopped writing and Carol Gino picked up. I can only guess that Puzo didn't get very far and/or the editors made a terrible mess of what was left. The story has absolutely no depth, and the characters have even less. The story, if one can call this narrative a 'story', is more of an outline than anything else I can describe. One can almost imagine the bullet points preceding each paragraph. I desperately wanted the early overview chapters to be a foundation upon which a masterful "Godfather"-like story would rest. Instead, I became desperate to put the book down. And so I did. Quite simply, this book is unreadable.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bodosika Bodosika

    Mario Puzo is the father of mafia thrillers.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    I don't like to speak ill of the dead, so I'll try to make this as short, sweet, and honest as possible. Mario Puzo clearly enjoyed the Borgia clan almost as much as I do. He clearly put a lot of time and effort into this book. He clearly put a lot of love into "The Family". However, he encounters two very problematic issues. Firstly, he was completely off-base in his interpretation of the Borgias, and thus he fails to make them effective and interesting characters. Even when he's supposed to be f I don't like to speak ill of the dead, so I'll try to make this as short, sweet, and honest as possible. Mario Puzo clearly enjoyed the Borgia clan almost as much as I do. He clearly put a lot of time and effort into this book. He clearly put a lot of love into "The Family". However, he encounters two very problematic issues. Firstly, he was completely off-base in his interpretation of the Borgias, and thus he fails to make them effective and interesting characters. Even when he's supposed to be flawed, Alexander Sextus is presented as this glorious man we're supposed to believe in constantly. Or maybe we're supposed to hate him? I don't know. Compared to Jeremy Irons' and Neil Jordan's interpretation of Alexander as a man who alternates humanly between bumbling and scheming, this person is weird and annoying, and... almost a bit of a try-hard? Then there's Lucrezia, who Puzo viewed as a "good girl" (her tendency towards incest notwithstanding). And nothing else. Really. She just spent a lot of time being a damsel and standing in as this angel for Cesare and Rodrigo, and... yes. No. Stop. Her adultery was either not mentioned or glossed over, unless it was with Cesare. (Which did not happen in reality, but whatever.) Cesare is presented as a failed hero. Puzo tries so hard to make him easy to relate to and heroic that he forgot that history says that this man had a serious problem. Cesare Borgia was borderline sociopathic; he loved no one but his sister. He was calculating and cruel, and that is exactly why he was successful. Puzo makes him more of a bad boy than a monster. He's afraid to "go there". And I won't spend much time on this, but--the second problem is that Puzo is a mediocre if not bad writer in terms of prose. This is just... very clunky. Very awkward. It's clear to me that whatever he wrote for "The Godfather"--my favorite movie--worked better as a screenplay. The sentimentality and effort is appreciated; however, this book is ultimately a failure.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Justine

    Mario Puzo describes the Borgias as the original mafia family. I have long made it known that Alexander VI is my favorite pope* due to sheer badassery and a reminder of the heyday that was the papacy of yore. I am torn about a reviewing system that compares books like The Family with The Hunger games and Cloud Atlas. What I'm trying to say is that while books in all three categories are rated on the same five point scale, they really aren't, as Puzo will never (in my opinion) be comparable to Mi Mario Puzo describes the Borgias as the original mafia family. I have long made it known that Alexander VI is my favorite pope* due to sheer badassery and a reminder of the heyday that was the papacy of yore. I am torn about a reviewing system that compares books like The Family with The Hunger games and Cloud Atlas. What I'm trying to say is that while books in all three categories are rated on the same five point scale, they really aren't, as Puzo will never (in my opinion) be comparable to Mitchell. That being said, for bestseller contemporary fiction** he's near the top end of the chain (suck it Dan Brown). Puzo has created some of the most iconic characters and his portrayal of the Borgia family is about as epic as his writing gets. What I love about his take on Renaissance history is the inexorable logic that motivates his characters. You read this and actually think that Alexander VI could have justified his rule like Puzo describes and that Cesare, Lucrezia, Juan, and Jofre's lives may have actually been pretty similar to this story. Puzo has the gift of taking figures who have passed into historical legend and giving them a voice and viewpoint that is not anachronistic, but is still entirely understandable. It makes reading about them dirty and delicious. I know that this isn't meant to be highfalutin but for what it is, The Family is a pretty fun read (especially for badass pope junky like me). *though my favorite Pope name would obviously be Boniface. **purposeful eschewal of the word literature.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Breslin

    I've read most of Mario Puzo's books, and this does not, in my opinion, compare favorably with the others. It's not bad, but, unlike The Godfather, it didn't fill me with ambitions to become a ruthless gangster, or, in this case, a scheming Pope. Not that we can really judge Puzo too harshly. He died before finishing this, and I can personally attest to how hard it is to finish writing a book even if you are still alive. I can only imagine it's even tougher when you're dead. He worked on it for I've read most of Mario Puzo's books, and this does not, in my opinion, compare favorably with the others. It's not bad, but, unlike The Godfather, it didn't fill me with ambitions to become a ruthless gangster, or, in this case, a scheming Pope. Not that we can really judge Puzo too harshly. He died before finishing this, and I can personally attest to how hard it is to finish writing a book even if you are still alive. I can only imagine it's even tougher when you're dead. He worked on it for years, decades, in fact, and his girlfriend finished it after he died. Kudos to her for wrapping it up, and an impressive job she did, but it still reads just a little bit like something a great writer worked on for years and was never able to finish and whose girlfriend finished after he died. Sort of. Which, again, is not bad but we're grading on a pretty steep curve. Puzo was the undisputed master of, for lack of a better genre description, fiction featuring diabolical Italians. This did keep me turning the pages, and prompted some interest in that era and the Borgias. But it didn't haunt me, move me, inspire me. It's great to see dramatization of the fact that the Catholic Church was once even more corrupt than it is now, but modern-day gangsters are, to me, a little more exciting. I think it's because they have guns. The Borgias did most of their killing with poison. Effective, yes, but not as dramatic.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    With the start of the new Showtime series The Borgias, I had to read one of the few remaining books on the Borgias that I own but hadn't read. Mario Puzo was fascinated by the Borgias all his life, and this was his chance to show his own interpretations of each Borgia personality, usually different from the standard views. His descriptions didn't give me the feeling of being there or knowing the characters; Puzo looked at the characters from an over-all viewpoint for decades, and didn't seem abl With the start of the new Showtime series The Borgias, I had to read one of the few remaining books on the Borgias that I own but hadn't read. Mario Puzo was fascinated by the Borgias all his life, and this was his chance to show his own interpretations of each Borgia personality, usually different from the standard views. His descriptions didn't give me the feeling of being there or knowing the characters; Puzo looked at the characters from an over-all viewpoint for decades, and didn't seem able to immerse himself in the minute. Most noticeable is what looks like a whitewash of Cesare. The most interesting character arc is Jofre's. The most scandalous story line is Pope Alexander's method of guaranteeing Lucrezia's loyalty to their family before her first marriage. The most unbelievable is Puzo's theory that the Borgias' official in charge of ceremonies, whose detailed diaries of Borgia court life are such meat to historians, was filling his volumes with slanderous lies. The most astonishing thing is that after a whole series of popes who conducted their papacies with flagrant criminality, half of Europe still fought to support the institution of papal dominance and infallibility. Truth is stranger than fiction.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Liza Martin

    This was my second Mario Puzo book, and I think this novel may have cemented an obsession with his books. "The Family" is a book about a 15th century Roman family headed by the newly-crowned Pope Alexander, who uses his family as pawns in a game of power. However, the story is juxtaposed with what it means to be a family, what love is (in all it's twisted forms), and how one finds his destiny in a world defined by alliances, power, revenge, and loyalty. This is the original Mafia family. Though I w This was my second Mario Puzo book, and I think this novel may have cemented an obsession with his books. "The Family" is a book about a 15th century Roman family headed by the newly-crowned Pope Alexander, who uses his family as pawns in a game of power. However, the story is juxtaposed with what it means to be a family, what love is (in all it's twisted forms), and how one finds his destiny in a world defined by alliances, power, revenge, and loyalty. This is the original Mafia family. Though I will admit it is not as good as "The Godfather" (will there be a Puzo book that is?!), "The Family" is a remarkable tale in its own right, with Puzo's eloquent writing, fascinating characters, and evident love of the Old Country. Another fun part of this novel was the cameo appearances by the "celebrities" of the time, including Da Vinci, King Ferdinand of Spain, and King Louis of France. I got about a third of the way into this book when I noticed it was "completed" by Carol Gino, and I immediately became weary because I do not like books that aren't completely the author's, especially if I don't know how far the author got. But Gino quelled my fears. At the end of the story, she has a three-page explanation on her friendship with Puzo, how "The Family" was developed (and loved) by Puzo over many, many years, and finally, how, right before his death, he handed her the last chapter of "The Family" for her to complete. She did a comendable job, and I wouldn't let the fact that Puzo died before finishing this book stop you from reading it. This was great!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michaela

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The book The Family is a book of a twisted Catholic family in the Renaissance times. The family is lead by Pope Alexander VI, along with his children Lucrezia, Cesare, Jofre, and Juan. When the children were younger they were taken away from their mother, to go and study in the church, with their father. Through the years each child developed certain important skills, that they would be able to use later in life. While growing up, the children face some tough choices. Especially Cesare and Lucr The book The Family is a book of a twisted Catholic family in the Renaissance times. The family is lead by Pope Alexander VI, along with his children Lucrezia, Cesare, Jofre, and Juan. When the children were younger they were taken away from their mother, to go and study in the church, with their father. Through the years each child developed certain important skills, that they would be able to use later in life. While growing up, the children face some tough choices. Especially Cesare and Lucrezia. Lucrezia is forced into a marriage, as an alliance between two families. Cesare is torn between his father's wishes of him staying in the church and him wanting to be a warrior. The story is all about the struggle that each of the children and the Pope go through to stay in power. Though they are a Catholic family, they don't exactly follow the Catholic rules. There is a lot of betrayal and cheating, not only with allies, but within the family as well. Overall, this book was an ok book to read. It was not a book that I would choose to read again. I think the reason why I didn't enjoy this book was because of the odd way that the family lived. For some reason I couldn't get by the fact of the children, Lucrezia and Cesare, had a love affair. I think that I wouldn't have minded this book as much if it was maybe in a different time, and wasn't so weird at some points.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lou Robinson

    I love a bit of historical fiction and this is a book based on the Borgias and life in renaissance Italy. It was a "James's pick", we have decided to choose a book for each other every couple of months. The genre and setting alone probably bumped up the score to 3, as I did enjoy reading The Family. But....it got tedious as the pages went on. A lot of...he killed him and then travelled to the next town and then killed him. Interspersed with some incest and rape. And a bit more killing. You guess I love a bit of historical fiction and this is a book based on the Borgias and life in renaissance Italy. It was a "James's pick", we have decided to choose a book for each other every couple of months. The genre and setting alone probably bumped up the score to 3, as I did enjoy reading The Family. But....it got tedious as the pages went on. A lot of...he killed him and then travelled to the next town and then killed him. Interspersed with some incest and rape. And a bit more killing. You guess quite early how it's going to turn out. But, a reasonable choice, James, I liked it, a strong 3*.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Sulzby

    I noticed a number of other reviewers thought this book was not as good as his other books. I found it fully as good (I read his pre-Godfather plus Godfather books) but I was reading it for a different purpose. After reading The Dark History of Christianity and an account of the Vatican papers, I was interested in the Borgias. Since SHOtime has started the cable series The Borgias there are many fictional or historical fictional accounts of this family which included two popes. Puzo's book begin I noticed a number of other reviewers thought this book was not as good as his other books. I found it fully as good (I read his pre-Godfather plus Godfather books) but I was reading it for a different purpose. After reading The Dark History of Christianity and an account of the Vatican papers, I was interested in the Borgias. Since SHOtime has started the cable series The Borgias there are many fictional or historical fictional accounts of this family which included two popes. Puzo's book begins when Rodrigo's daughter Lucrezia is around 12, he has become pope, taking the name Alexander VI, and he has "parked" the mother of Lucretzia, Cesare, Juan, and (perhaps) Jofre in exchange for the younger, Guilia Farnese. It ends with Lucretzia surviving the deaths(in order) of Juan, Alexander, and Jofre. Puzo's book accepts the rumor of incest between Lucretzia and Cesare but places the blame on Alexander. It also questions the relationship between "sin" and "goodness" throughout the book. It gives great detail to the role of the Papal army, headed first by Juan while Cesare is named a Cardinal by his father. After Juan's death, Cesare resigns as a Cardinal and heads the highly successful Papal forces, until his father's death. After Cesare dies, his ashes are collected by Lucretzia and ceremoniously scattered on the waters of a lake that had been part of their childhood. I read a recent book on The Borgias which kept the incest idea secret until nearly the end of Cesare's life and had a "mistress" bear his child who has had only a few contacts with him (two intercourses and a few letters) but with Lucretzia's support. It was strange, far less believable, and its fictional lead character was ridiculous. I heartily recommend The Family, Puzo's book, to people interested in the cable series and wanting background on the Borgias but not wanting to dig for the recorded history.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carl Alves

    The Family is a fitting ending to a terrific writing career. Completed after his death, Puzo tells the story of the Borgias, what he considered to be the first Mafia family. It starts with the coronation of Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander in 1492. Pope Alexander’s reign as Pope had little to do with religion and had everything to do with amassing power for him and his family. Alexander had children and lovers and a taste for all worldly goods. He sets up his oldest son Cesare as a cardinal with The Family is a fitting ending to a terrific writing career. Completed after his death, Puzo tells the story of the Borgias, what he considered to be the first Mafia family. It starts with the coronation of Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander in 1492. Pope Alexander’s reign as Pope had little to do with religion and had everything to do with amassing power for him and his family. Alexander had children and lovers and a taste for all worldly goods. He sets up his oldest son Cesare as a cardinal with the thought of him taking over as Pope. He marries off his other children to influential families in order to solidify his power base. His son Juan is set up to lead the papal armies and take over lands. Meanwhile his only daughter Lucrezia has a torrid incestuous romance with her brother Cesare. Things eventually start to unravel as the Pope makes many enemies including within his own family. This is a bit of a departure from some of Puzo’s Mafia fiction, taking place during the Italian Renaissance. He has an easy going narrative style that makes for enjoyable reading. From a technical standpoint, I thought he did a little too much summary narrative and could have dug into his scenes a little better. The characters were strong and memorable. They are all very flawed but still likeable. Cesare, in particular, was a character to root for. I enjoyed cameo appearances by Machiavelli, Michaelangelo, and Leonardo Da Vinci. I have always been a Puzo fan, and although this doesn’t stand up to his best fiction, this was still a very enjoyable read that I would recommend for readers of historical fiction and high drama. Carl Alves – author of Two For Eternity

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lewis Weinstein

    Puzo also wrote this excellent historical novel about an earlier Italian family. I read this as research for the sequel to THE HERETIC, set in 15th century Florence, and I got a great story that was more than I had expected.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Asghar Abbas

    I enjoyed it for what it was. Feel sad that Puzo couldn't finish it. Loved reading about the Borgias. They were something, haha, can't help but admire their incredulity. It takes a certain kind of arrogance and flouting of the basic human values to be this brazenly shameless. I enjoyed it for what it was. Feel sad that Puzo couldn't finish it. Loved reading about the Borgias. They were something, haha, can't help but admire their incredulity. It takes a certain kind of arrogance and flouting of the basic human values to be this brazenly shameless.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I'll say it again. Not everyone loves Mario Puzo, but I do. His tales of Italian life and Mafia are intriguing and I've never been able to put one of his books down -- except The Fortunate Pilgrim. I'll say it again. Not everyone loves Mario Puzo, but I do. His tales of Italian life and Mafia are intriguing and I've never been able to put one of his books down -- except The Fortunate Pilgrim.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Walt

    An author fascinated by crime families. A novelization of one of the most notorious families in Renaissance Italy. What could go wrong? Unfortunately, a lot. This is a slow book that lacks the action and fascination of both the Renaissance warlords and later day Mafia families. Puzo does not go far beyond the written record. Therefore, readers with even scant knowledge of the Borgias know the outcome. The writing was so slow; but easy to follow. The Borgias are famous for attempting to turn the P An author fascinated by crime families. A novelization of one of the most notorious families in Renaissance Italy. What could go wrong? Unfortunately, a lot. This is a slow book that lacks the action and fascination of both the Renaissance warlords and later day Mafia families. Puzo does not go far beyond the written record. Therefore, readers with even scant knowledge of the Borgias know the outcome. The writing was so slow; but easy to follow. The Borgias are famous for attempting to turn the Papacy into a dynasty. Pope Alexander VI used his sons to establish a reign of terror over Central Italy in a vague mission to unify the warlords under Papal (Borgia) control. Along the way they murder, poison, intimidate, bribe, and outrage people then and now. History may have been unusually cruel to them; but if just a fraction of their outrages are true, they were terrible people. Puzo does take a rather new view of them by making them appear sympathetic or on par with other wealthy families of the era. Although Puzo does mention the outrages of various warlords, like Ferrante of Naples and Caterina Sforza of Forli, these incidents are few in number whereas the Borgias were more numerous. He tries to distance them by inserting a fictional assassin who does most of the dirty work. If he is inadequate, there is a mysterious witch....Some historians have taken similar views and reassess them as governors. The result is that at best they were spoiled rich kids without consequence; at worst they were hell-spawn. Although I approached this book with a basic knowledge of the Borgias, I was taken aback by Puzo's sympathies. I was especially put off by the repeated references to Cesare Borgia is vague glowing terms. He was so bright and intelligent, such a leader of men, so brave and powerful. And yet there was virtually no evidence for such hero worship. It reminds me of the popular television show Millionaire Matchmaker where the host pairs middle-aged male millionaires with young models. On a series of dates, the prospective couple tell each other over and over again how smart the other one is. I can easily imagine Puzo gazing lovingly into Cesare's eyes and telling him how manly he is....There was a strange homosexual encounter with a minor character.... A novelist has the ability to take liberties with their work. Puzo's insertion of incidental characters is fine and good. But he took some strange liberties to highlight the bad qualities of Borgia peers. Cesare is perhaps most reviled for the capture and rape of the Countess Caterina Sforza. After capturing her fortress, he raped her repeatedly. She had the reputation of a violent governor and very wrathful in her vengeance. However, Puzo adds a story where she blows up her own fortress rather than lose it to Cesare. I could not find any evidence of the story. The intention was again to show that Cesare was not so bad.... I was unable to sympathize with any of the characters. Possibly this is due to my prior knowledge of the family and their controversies. However, I disliked the approach to make them likeable. It is almost forced onto the reader. Alexander trying to rationalize his choices (I would call it perversion of the Catholic Church) is made to appear as a father rather than the Pope. Similarly, Cesare is presented as a twisted figure of fate who was forced into a role....due to what exactly? Lastly, Puzo completely exonerates Lucrezia in all of the family's deeds. The deaths of her husbands are conveniently laid out to others. Granted, it is not certain what her role was in her father's machinations, or how involved she was in furthering his agenda; but to present her as basically a saint is difficult for any author. Overall, this book was difficult and slow. It appeared to go in circles with the same event happening again and again. There were instances where characters in the novel commented on why any government would seek unity with the Borgias because there history was so....colorful. The action was slow to nonexistent. Only in the last 40 pages revealing the end of Cesare was rewarding to this reader. But then again, I may have been satisfied that I finished the novel.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Thanks to having a lot of time on my hands I decided to watch the Borgias and once I watched the Borgias I want to read about them and when I found a book by the man who wrote the Godfather I was sold. It was definitely easy to get into because I had just watched the show, which was a good primer. There is a lot of mature content in the book including incest.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Trina Dienger

    I’ve read many biographies of Cesare Borgia and family so I’m knowledgeable about when novels skewer the history behind repair. While the history in most books is adequate the characterizations are poor, especially since most tend to write Cesare off as a psychopath, something that annoys me given I don’t view him in that light. To view Cesare in the morals of our own period, as is often done, is wrong and ignores everything that makes Cesare great and the Prince Niccolo Machiavelli wrote about. I’ve read many biographies of Cesare Borgia and family so I’m knowledgeable about when novels skewer the history behind repair. While the history in most books is adequate the characterizations are poor, especially since most tend to write Cesare off as a psychopath, something that annoys me given I don’t view him in that light. To view Cesare in the morals of our own period, as is often done, is wrong and ignores everything that makes Cesare great and the Prince Niccolo Machiavelli wrote about. Cesare was a product of his time, his expedience of killing, his cruelty towards traitors, his ambitions are all Renaissance Italy and few men wielded the garrote and sword for better purpose. King Ferdinand I of Aragon had a mummy museum of his enemies, Ludovico Sforza poisoned his nephew for the Duchy of Milan, and great artists like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo were immortalizing their names in history. Cesare Borgia grew to age in a world of intrigue and few books take into account his surroundings when casting him as an irredeemable psychopath. Cesare was many things but he was not that. He was Duke of Valentinois at his height and before that Cardinal of Valencia hence his nickname of Valentino and as Valentino he conquered cities through whatever means necessary, ruled his cities justly, his soldiers loved him, his condottieri (his captains) betrayed him for ambition and he swiftly dealt with them through a beautiful deception and the garrote. He helped divorce Lucrezia to her first husband, a husband he himself protested at, and when politics and a threat to his own life demanded it ordered her second husband’s murder. Cesare was pitiless ambition but he was also not heartless. He loved his sister and they shared a close bond up until his death. He also had a wife in France who refused to remarry and who mourned him until her own death many years after his. I enjoyed the first half of the book before Alfonso came onto the scene. Cesare’s character is meant to be an antihero which is fine, but the whitewashing of all his crimes annoyed me. Cesare wasn’t evil but he wasn’t a ‘good’ person either. He likely murdered Pedro/Perotto, Alfonso of Aragon, and possibly his own brother Juan depending on what you believe. The only thing he does that related to his historical crimes was his Caterina ‘rape’ which truly wasn’t a rape cause Caterina consented, Senigallia, and the poet killing. Why have been do those things and not the others? Did Mario not want to justify Cesare’s actions against Pedro, Alfonso, and Juan because they aren’t as favorable to his character as the others who were enemies and traitors? I can’t fathom it. “You must admit that even rape can be pleasurable,” Cesare said. Caterina laughed and said slyly, “You believe you raped me? You are wrong, you Roman bastard, son of a Pope. Standing on the rampart of the castle, that first moment I saw you, I was determined either to kill you or to rape you. If I had captured you, I would have tied you up, just as you did me. And then I would have mounted you. But no matter; the result is the same.” “Gentlemen, please be seated,” Cesare commanded. “Senigallia has always been a significant port, but it will, I believe, be far more significant after today. You have all richly deserved your rewards and you shall have them. Now!” On the word, “Now,” two dozen heavily armed men burst into the room from all sides. And in less than a minute Paolo and Franco Orsini, Oliver da Fermo, and Vito Vitelli were tied securely to their chairs. Cesare, his eyes black with intensity, said, “So, gentlemen. For your reward allow me to introduce my good friend Don Michelotto.” Michelotto bowed and smiled. He detested treachery. Taking his garrote from an aide, he moved from one disloyal commander to the next, strangling each one in turn as the others watched in horror. “I suppose you plan to strangle me,” Filofila said, his voice trembling. Now Michelotto seemed to pay attention. “No, Signor Poet. Not at all. That would be too fast, too easy for a man of your vast cruelty. What I intend to do,” he said smiling, “is to cut out your tongue, then your ears and nose, then your genitals, then your fingers, one at a time. Then I may cut off other things. Or, if I am moved to pity, maybe then I will do you the favor of killing you.” The only other thing that annoyed me about Mario was Lucrezia’s characterization. She’s a paragon of virtue aside from the incest with Cesare which she later abstains from due to love of Alfonso and because of the sin. Her character felt like a modern insertion meant to show how awful murder, incest, etc. were. I couldn’t stand her after Alfonso came into the picture. I know Lucrezia was a religious person in her later life in Ferrara, but having her more or less renounce Cesare in the last scene because incest is a sin was horrible and ruined the book for me, it also wasn’t true to historical Lucrezia who mourned her brother’s passing deeply. Mario also glosses over the affairs Lucrezia had it Ferrara by omitting them, so incest is too bad a crime but not adultery? 3 out of 5 stars because they showed much about Cesare I enjoyed.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Scott Waldyn

    I really wanted to like this, but it's a little slow. I really wanted to like this, but it's a little slow.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sonia

    I liked the fast-paced of it although sometimes the information given can be too overwhelming.

  27. 5 out of 5

    pokerface

    Wasn't exactly enjoying myself whilst reading this. I missed it when it ended though. Weird. Wasn't exactly enjoying myself whilst reading this. I missed it when it ended though. Weird.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mary Mojica

    How difficult it is to survive between power, corruption, tyranny and deceive.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stacie (MagicOfBooks)

    I've been on a bit of a Borgia family high. Season two of the Showtime series ended a little while ago, and I picked up this book to see how much I'd like it considering how much I'm in love with the TV show. And I really liked this book! Obviously, the show and this book are two separate things---as well as the actual history of the family. Some things are similar. Some things are not. And I've not read much factual information about the real Borgia family to form an opinion on which is the mor I've been on a bit of a Borgia family high. Season two of the Showtime series ended a little while ago, and I picked up this book to see how much I'd like it considering how much I'm in love with the TV show. And I really liked this book! Obviously, the show and this book are two separate things---as well as the actual history of the family. Some things are similar. Some things are not. And I've not read much factual information about the real Borgia family to form an opinion on which is the more accurate account. Either way, this was a real interesting and fascinating read. To start: what a dynamic set of characters! You have Pope Alexander who does everything he can possibly do within his power for his children. Then there's the handsome and ambitious Cesare who creates his own downfall. Then there's the infamous Lucrezia who is given very deep moments and conflicts. Also the arrogant Juan who strives to please his father. And also Jofre who feels underappreciated and ignored. The Borgias are the epitome of the dysfunctional family trope. I think my main complaint with this novel has nothing to do with the characters or even the plot. My problem was the pacing. My addition is 373 pages long. That's no where near enough to tell the story of the Borgias in my opinion. Events happened quickly---and sometimes within just a page! Juan's death (which takes two season on the TV show to get to) occurs less than halfway through the book. Lucrezia's marriages are over at the snap of a finger it seems. Just so many things that happened very quickly. The novel is really more like a condensed version of their story. I wouldn't have been bothered one bit if the novel had an extra 200-300 pages to be honest. Another thing: if you are freaked out by incest...well... stay far away from this book. There are no apologies over the fact that Lucrezia and Cesare do have sexual feelings for each other, and do have sex numerous times over the course of the novel. But the incest is a major part of the story and the reason behind the things Cesare does and feels because of his obsession over his sister. Something I really found myself loving were the scenes between Jofre and his wife Sancia. They aren't really major characters, but their brief moments are absolutely stunning to read. Jofre has great character moments as he starts off being jealous of Sancia's affair with his brother Juan, but by the end of the novel he really comes to love her. Also, if you're looking for a badass, strong woman, you'll love the few scenes with Caterina Sforza. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, despite my issue with how quickly it went through the Borgia history. Great characters and great story. Plus, if you are reeling after the season two finale of the TV show, this is a great summer read to tide you over until the next season.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emily Murphy

    Note: All of these ratings are on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best. Quality of Writing: 2 I only found out now that my version of the book (an audio recording performed by Philip Bosco) was probably abridged. That would definitely explain why most of the book was summary. The bits that did have actual dialogue or action were okay, but it only left me more dissatisfied with the parts that were summarized. The audio performance itself was also subpar, adding to the general boredom of the writing s Note: All of these ratings are on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best. Quality of Writing: 2 I only found out now that my version of the book (an audio recording performed by Philip Bosco) was probably abridged. That would definitely explain why most of the book was summary. The bits that did have actual dialogue or action were okay, but it only left me more dissatisfied with the parts that were summarized. The audio performance itself was also subpar, adding to the general boredom of the writing style. Pace: 3 Because of its summarizing nature, it's very difficult to tell how much time has passed. It drags on through the summary, and that dragging seems to apply even to the actual scenes with dialogue. Though it felt like it lingered, it physically did not linger too long on any one topic, giving it at least a three in this category. Plot Development: 3 Remember how I said not much time was spent on any one topic? Well, that's a great hindrance to plot. Not much interconnects. There seemed to be no common thread or way to tie all the stories together. I recognize that's the way life is, but it makes for some sloppy story telling. The only plot that seemed to influence the others in a meaningful way was that of Lucretzia and Cesare. Then again, I don't care for military strategy, so I paid little attention to that part. Characters: 4 There were a lot of side characters that kept getting introduced throughout the book. That wasn't helpful. You can take pains to remember characters who don't matter, only to be surprised by characters who do. The main characters, however, did have some dimension and life to them. A couple of them grow and change. Everybody except Alexander/Roderigo, which was a surprise. He's always the same: destructively loyal family man who thinks he's doing what's right, even at the expense of others. Enjoyability: 3 So much of this book is a summary of military conquests and political alliances. I find those dull - they read more like a report than a story. I did enjoy some of the domestic problems and personal grievances. I wish we could have explored that side of things further. Insightfulness: 8 I've only ever seen the Borgias portrayed as inhumane, cruel, and heartless individuals. This book did give a different side to things, though in some instances it seems to lean too far into the sunlight. Ease of Reading: 4 The actual vocabulary in this book isn't terribly difficult. What is difficult, however, is understanding the peculiarities of Renaissance politics. I lost track of who was aligned with who and what difference it made if Lucretzia married this duke or that king, to the point where I didn't even care enough to correct my ignorance. So if you have trouble following teenage gossip, avoid this book. All of this averages to a 3.86/10, which is a 1.9/5, hence the 2-star rating.

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