The Family

The Family

3.7 70
by Mario Puzo

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From the author of The Godfather -- a landmark publishing event -- the epic story of Italy's first great crime family!

What is a family? Mario Puzo first answered that question, unforgettably, with the creation of the Corleones, who forever redefined the concept of blood loyalty. Thirty years later, Puzo enriches us all with this ultimate

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From the author of The Godfather -- a landmark publishing event -- the epic story of Italy's first great crime family!

What is a family? Mario Puzo first answered that question, unforgettably, with the creation of the Corleones, who forever redefined the concept of blood loyalty. Thirty years later, Puzo enriches us all with this ultimate statement on the subject in a masterpiece that crowns his remarkable career: the story of the greatest power family in Italian history -- the Borgias.

In The Family, this singular novelist transports his readers back to fifteenth-century Rome and reveals to us the extravagance and intrigue of the Vatican as surely as he once revealed the secrets of the Mafia. At the story's center is Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI, a man whose lustful appetites for power, luxury, and women were matched only by his consuming love of family. Surrounding him are his extraordinary children -- among them the beautiful, strong-willed Lucrezia and the passionate warrior Cesare, Machiavelli's friend and inspiration. Their dramatic stories constitute a symphony of human emotion and behavior, from pride to romance to jealousy to betrayal and murderous rage. And their time, place, and characters are recaptured in all their earthy grandeur, in an epic both timeless and wholly contemporary.

A labor of love more than a decade in the making, The Family marks the final triumph of one of the greatest storytellers of our time.

About the Author
Mario Puzo (1920-1999) was the author of the international bestseller The Godfather and cowrote the screenplays for the landmark trio of films based on the book. Puzo's other books include The Last Don and Omerta, also New York Times bestsellers. His companion, novelist Carol Gino, is the bestselling author of The Nurse's Story, Rusty's Story, and Then an Angel Came.

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Editorial Reviews
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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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.08(d)

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Chapter One

The golden rays off the summer sun warmed the cobblestone streets of Rome as Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia walked briskly from the Vatican to the three-story stucco house on the Piazza de Merlo where he'd come to claim three of his young children: his sons Cesare and Juan and his daughter Lucrezia, flesh of his flesh, blood of his blood. On this fortuitous day the vice-chancellor to the Pope, the second most powerful man in the Holy Roman Catholic Church, felt especially blessed.

At the house of their mother, Vanozza Cattanei, he found himself whistling happily. As a son of the church he was forbidden to marry, but as a man of God he felt certain that he knew the Good Lord's plan. For did not the Heavenly Father create Eve to complete Adam, even in Paradise? So did it not follow that on this treacherous earth filled with unhappiness, a man needed the comfort of a woman even more? He'd had three previous children when he was a young bishop, but these last children he had sired, those of Vanozza, held a special place in his heart. They seemed to ignite in him the same high passions that she had. And even now, while they were still so young, he envisioned them standing on his shoulders, forming a great giant, helping him to unite the Papal States and extend the Holy Roman Catholic Church far across the world.

Over the years, whenever he had come to visit, the children always called him "Papa," seeing no compromise in his devotion to them and his loyalty to the Holy See. They saw nothing strange about the fact he was a cardinal and their father too. For didn't Pope Innocent's son and daughter often parade through the streets of Rome for celebrations with great ceremony?

Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia had been with his mistress, Vanozza, for more than ten years, and he smiled when he thought how few women had brought him such excitement and kept his interest for so long. Not that Vanozza had been the only woman in his life, for he was a man of large appetites in all worldly pleasures. But she had been by far the most important. She was intelligent, to his eye beautiful -- and someone he could talk to about earthly and heavenly matters. She had often given him wise counsel, and in return he had been a generous lover and a doting father to their children.

Vanozza stood in the doorway of her house and smiled bravely as she waved good-bye to her three children.

One of her great strengths now that she had reached her fortieth year was that she understood the man who wore the robes of the cardinal. She knew he had a burning ambition, a fire that flamed in his belly that would not be extinguished. He also had a military strategy for the Holy Catholic Church that would expand its reach, political alliances that would strengthen it, and promises of treaties that would cement his position as well as his power. He had talked to her about all these things. Ideas marched across his mind as relentlessly as his armies would march through new territories. He was destined to become one of the greatest leaders of men, and with his rise would come her children's. Vanozza tried to comfort herself with the knowledge that one day, as the cardinal's legitimate heirs, they would have wealth, power, and opportunity. And so she could let them go.

Now she held tight to her infant son, Jofre, her only remaining child -- too young to take from her, for he was still at the breast. Yet he too must go before long. Her dark eyes were shiny with tears as she watched her other children walk away. Only once did Lucrezia look back, but the boys never turned around.

Vanozza saw the handsome, imposing figure of the cardinal reach for the small hand of his younger son, Juan, and the tiny hand of his three-year-old daughter, Lucrezia. Their eldest son, Cesare, left out, already looked upset. That meant trouble, she thought, but in time Rodrigo would know them as well as she did. Hesitantly, she closed the heavy wooden front door.

They had taken only a few steps when Cesare, angry now, pushed his brother so hard that Juan, losing his grip on his father's hand, stumbled and almost fell to the ground. The cardinal stopped the small boy's fall, then turned and said, "Cesare, my son, could you not ask for what you want, rather than pushing your brother?"

Juan, a year younger but much more slightly built than the seven-year-old Cesare, snickered proudly at his father's defense. But before he could bask in his satisfaction, Cesare moved closer and stomped hard upon his foot.

Juan cried out in pain.

The cardinal grabbed Cesare by the back of his shirt with one of his large hands -- lifting him off the cobblestone street -- and shook him so hard that his auburn curls tumbled across his face. Then he stood the child on his feet again. Kneeling in front of the small boy, his brown eyes softened. He asked, "What is it, Cesare? What has displeased you so?"

The boy's eyes, darker and more penetrating, glowed like coals as he stared at his father. "I hate him, Papa," he said in an impassioned voice. "You choose him always..."

"Now, now, Cesare," the cardinal said, amused. "The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other. Besides, it's a mortal sin to hate one's own brother, and there is no reason to endanger your immortal soul over such emotions." He stood now, towering over them. Then he smiled as he patted his portly belly. "There is certainly enough of me for all of there not?"

Rodrigo Borgia...

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The Family 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
miss_dobie More than 1 year ago
A wonderful, thrilling story which captivates from the very beginning right thru to the end - and especially fascinating when read while viewing the Showtime series "The Borgias." All the characters come to life and the story flows smoothly. A great reading pleasure that makes me want to find more books about Renaissance Italy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overall I enjoyed the book although there were many slow spots loaded with proper names of characters that were never developed that after a while I just skimmed because they didnt add to the story. However, the lives of the main characters were very interesting. It was even more fasinating when you find out its based on true events and historical figures. The book has elements of the Star Wars saga, mixed with the Godfather, see if you can point them out as you read. Warning very uncomfortable incest subplot that may give you the chills. Also if you are a devote Catholic, this book does not represent the office of the Pope in a favorable light.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Borgia and Corleon. Same people 500 year apart.
Browning-Babe More than 1 year ago
Excellent reading, Mr. Puzo does not disappoint!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i like how mario puzo captured the corruption of the vatican. hard to get past the incest though....
sunnhauntr More than 1 year ago
The sad truth is that this book is more biographical than fiction. The Borgia family, though corrupt, still has the power to mesmerize the ages and lure us into their wicked tale, and Puzo masterfully travels us back in time to the Renaissance age in which they lived. I thoroughly enjoyed his version of events.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well, The Family was such a thoroughly entertaining novel. When I first looked at the cover page I thought this book was going to be so boring. However, the first chapter alone sparked my interest. The story began with Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia and the papal elections. Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia became the new Pope Alexander. Throughout the book there were times where incest between his children Cesare and Lucrezia occurred. This began to eliminate rivals and leading his children to marry into alliances with the children of the noble families of France and Spain. Cesare wanted to be a soldier, and Lucrezia was more on the loving side with other dukes. Their differences stirred up conflict between the two siblings created chaos between their love lives. Also the history of the Renaissance is very much explained throughout the book. Mario Puzo does an excellent job teaching Renaissance Italy in an entertaining and interesting way. If you want to learn about Renaissance Italy and be entertain at the same time, I advise you to read The Family by Mario Puzo.
Guest More than 1 year ago
And I thought the Godfather was written brilliantly. The Family is an amazing book. It completely pulls you in from the first chapter and intrigues you to the point where you can't put the book down at all. Mario's imagination is one of a kind. I only wish there were more of his books to dive into. Mario is missed !
Guest More than 1 year ago
Its one of the best books I have ever read. Mario Puzo gave his all on the last book he ever wrote and I was mexmerized by the second chapter. The story of The borgia family has been told many times, but I think Mario puzo told it the best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of those you read in one go, one day, hardly able to put it down. I just loved the way it goes through almost 3 years of history in merely 300 pages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This intelligently written story is thick with surprises and twists of all sorts. I found myself having a hard time reading for only an hour or two. I was lost in the world of the Borgias. This is definitely one of Mr. Puzo's best!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Puzo's novels in the past were ones that I coul'dnt put down. The family is such a snoozer, it had me falling asleep before the end of the first chapter.
Guest More than 1 year ago
loved the story, got lost in their world. A wonderfully visual look into the history of the Borgia family and early Italy. When completd, was saddened as I wanted more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Family transports the reader to the 15th Century when intrigue, sin, and the interplay between religion and politics were rampant. The authors ingeniously use the tone of language of the times in this well-constructed and well-developed historical novel. It is not for those readers who expect a 20th-Century Mafia-type book as in Puzo's previous styles. It is, however, for people who want to have an entertaining and better understanding of the infamous Borgia family, its connection with the Florentine strategist Macchiavelli, and how the Catholic Church developed during the Italian Renaissance. Very appealing and extremely well written with details of the religious extremism of the 15th Century that could easily be applied to certain religious groups today. Well worth the read and one of the best novels I have read in a long time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A sort of way to put historical facts into a non-history book. I enjoyed reading it because I could gain much knowledge on one of the first great families of crime. The book revolves around Alexander VI and his children. Very factual, though: no in-depth analysis. I was also disapointed to see they did not mention certain interesting characters who surrounded the real borgias's existence. Still, I recommend the book. Good ending.
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If you are unfamiliar with the late Mr. Puzo's past works & cannot immediately point out every historical inaccuracy, then this is an enjoyable light read. Being not of that category, I had to keep reminding myself to cease with the incessant critiquing. Once I reconciled the writing style and forgave the blatant inaccuracies to suit plot suspense, it was a decent book & found myself giving Gino a few kudos for keeping Mr. Puzo's spirit within the pages.
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