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The Family: A Novel
by Mario Puzo
ISBN 0060394455 / 9780060394455 / 0-06-039445-5
Publisher William Morrow
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The Family is the belated fruit of Mario Puzo's life-long obsession with the Borgias, whom the creator of Don Corleone saw as just another family whose family business happened to involve killing people. He never got round to writing the book until his last months, when he was old and tired and made some unfortunate artistic decisions. This is the sort of old-fashioned historical novel in which the likes of Machiavelli, Da Vinci and Savonarola make momentary walks-on and in which people regularly spend half a page explaining international politics to each other--nonetheless, much of it has an intensity that compels in spite of the stiltedness of much of the dialogue. Puzo and his editor feel that the interesting story is how Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander, created his son Cesare as the dark instrument of his will, and how Lucrezia, the emotional heart of the family, became a woman many remember as saintly in spite of participating fully, even incestuously, in her family's intrigues. The Borgias were not so different from their various rivals--just, for a while, more successful. --Roz Kaveney [via]