The Fortunate Pilgrim: A Novel Info

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FROM BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE GODFATHER - "A classic... The
novel is lifted into literature by its highly charged language, its
penetrating insights, and its mixture of tenderness and rage." - New
York Times Book Review

Described by the author as his
"best and most literary book." 
Puzo's classic story about the
loves, crimes and struggles confronted by one family of New York City
immigrants living in Hell's Kitchen. Fresh from the farms in Italy,
Lucia Santa struggles to hold her family together in a strange land. At
turns poignant, comic and violent, The Fortunate Pilgrim is
Italian-American fiction at its very best.
The book's hero, Lucia
Santa, is an incredibly captivating character and based on Puzo's very
own mother - he describes, "her wisdom, her ruthlessness, and her
unconquerable love for her family and for life itself, qualities not
valued in women at the time."

Average Ratings and Reviews
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4.38

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Reviews for The Fortunate Pilgrim: A Novel:

5

Nov 27, 2015


What's more beautiful than a book that is so personal, so wistful, so poetic, where Puzo is most vulnerable showing this gentle side of himself, where he actually dared to imbibe hope in such an unabashed fashion. All that he was, all that he wanted to be, all his nights, all of his days, all of his endings, his yesterdays and tomorrows, his Art, all his experiences and relations he dolloped them into this book.

Not his personal favorite (That's a spot designated for Fools Die, makes me
What's more beautiful than a book that is so personal, so wistful, so poetic, where Puzo is most vulnerable showing this gentle side of himself, where he actually dared to imbibe hope in such an unabashed fashion. All that he was, all that he wanted to be, all his nights, all of his days, all of his endings, his yesterdays and tomorrows, his Art, all his experiences and relations he dolloped them into this book.

Not his personal favorite (That's a spot designated for Fools Die, makes me irrelevantly happy that's his favorite too) but his most intimate work definitely. I don't think he let down his guard again after this novel. With his two earlier books he remained chaste as an artist but after getting the shit pounded out of him for those endeavors, he graduated from Romanticism and became a Vegas hustler. Then he wrote a book for money called The Godfather. Uncut as it was, that book remains an amazing achievement in its own way. ...more
3

Dec 21, 2014

I would recommend this book to those of you who
-want to try Mario Puzo, but don't know which of his books to start with.
-are interested in Italian immigrant life during the Depression.
-like books about complicated family relationships.

In the introduction to the book we are told that it is this book that the author himself thought was his best. It is about his mother. He wrote The Godfather later. That one he wrote to be a bestseller; he had to support his family.

The book follows one Italian I would recommend this book to those of you who
-want to try Mario Puzo, but don't know which of his books to start with.
-are interested in Italian immigrant life during the Depression.
-like books about complicated family relationships.

In the introduction to the book we are told that it is this book that the author himself thought was his best. It is about his mother. He wrote The Godfather later. That one he wrote to be “a bestseller”; he had to support his family.

The book follows one Italian immigrant family through the Depression up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. They live in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, home to the poor and working-class Italian and Irish American immigrants. The language is crude and life is tough; you are happy if you simply survive. The mother, the star role of the family does survive. Just surviving makes her worthy of the title "the fortunate pilgrim", the book's title. Happy? Not necessarily. She has two husbands and six children. There are three deaths. By the book's end you know the six children. I particularly liked how the personalities of the six children were so different. You follow them to adulthood. By the book's end I felt empathy for the mother too. She was such a strong, determined woman that it wasn't until the end that I felt she needed my sympathy. Then what happens hits home. I need to feel empathy for the characters in a story. Not in the middle, but only by the book's end, did I feel such empathy. The life of this family felt genuine through and through, and moments of sunlight are shown too.

You cannot read a book about Italians that skirts the issue of the Mafia. Why is it so hard not to fall into the trap of the Mafia? One of the sons succumbs. Why? How? You understand because you understand the life of the mother and her six kids and that help was not available from legal venues.

I enjoy immigrant stories where the characters feel they are making something of their lives by moving rather than bemoaning what they have lost.

A word of warning: the language is filthy...but genuine. Do you want it cleaned up for your ears? Then you better pick another book.

I really disliked the narration of the audiobook by John Kenneth. Over-dramatized. Too emotional. His Italian accent made it difficult for me to hear the name of the person speaking.
...more
5

Oct 15, 2012

There are a few things about this book that will stick with me for a long time, and one of them is the fact that when I checked it out of the library a page was still folded down. Someone started but did not finish this book? Unthinkable! This book is damned near perfect: hilarious, tragic, soaked in olive oil and mischief. The idea that you would meet the Angeluzzi-Corbo family and then walk away from them before the story's end is something I cannot fully grasp. Maybe that previous library There are a few things about this book that will stick with me for a long time, and one of them is the fact that when I checked it out of the library a page was still folded down. Someone started but did not finish this book? Unthinkable! This book is damned near perfect: hilarious, tragic, soaked in olive oil and mischief. The idea that you would meet the Angeluzzi-Corbo family and then walk away from them before the story's end is something I cannot fully grasp. Maybe that previous library patron died in the middle of this book -- a pleasant death brought on by peals of laughter or a broken heart.

Signora Lucia Santa is our Fortunate Pilgrim, cast from Italy at a young age to become the wife of a fellow immigrant in NYC's West Side. She steers her six children through four decades of tenement living -- frequently cursing God for her bad fortune, but knowing in her heart that fate is no match for her own shrewdness. Mario Puzo has said she is his most ruthless character, and all I can say is... well, I should certainly hope so.

Lucia Santa on catching her eldest son at his married mistresses' house:
"Lucia Santa watched Lorenzo with grim irony. Her handsome son with the false heart. But he -- his hair like blue-black silk, with his straight bronze heavy features, his big nose -- he, the Judas, turned his head to view his mother with affectionate astonishment."

Lucia Santa on her daughter's foul language:
"Lucia Santa said absently in Italian, 'With a husband I thought your mouth would get cleaner as the other got dirty.' Octavia flushed deep red. Lucia Santa was pleased. Her daughter's surface vulgarity, American, was no match for her own, bred in the Italian bone."

Lucia Santa on the return of her husband from the insane asylum:
"'But alas, we cannot be eternally good, eternally generous. We are too poor, we cannot afford it. It is so good - it feels wonderful to be generous for a short period of time. But as a steady thing, it goes against the grain, it's against human nature.' With these words, she condemned and sentenced her husband forever."
...more
2

May 17, 2018

Sorry Mario Puzo, I know this is your personal favorite of all the books youve written, for clearly sentimental reasons, but it failed to captivate me.

Parts of this reminded me of Mark Helprins Winters Tale, another book I failed to finish. I definitely have a sweet tooth - I used to think that drowning in a pool of chocolate wouldnt be such a bad way to go - but when it comes to literature, I am not fond of overt sentimentality.

This was Puzos first novel, and the man who would later become Sorry Mario Puzo, I know this is your personal favorite of all the books you’ve written, for clearly sentimental reasons, but it failed to captivate me.

Parts of this reminded me of Mark Helprin’s “Winter’s Tale”, another book I failed to finish. I definitely have a sweet tooth - I used to think that drowning in a pool of chocolate wouldn’t be such a bad way to go - but when it comes to literature, I am not fond of overt sentimentality.

This was Puzo’s first novel, and the man who would later become famous as the author of “The Godfather” (one of my all-time favorites) clearly learned a great deal in between writing this book and that one.

You immigrate to America, try to make a living, your husband dies, leaving you to raise the kids alone AND somehow provide for them - that’s tough, and Puzo’s mother and all those like her deserve something infinitely more precious than a medal to applaud their ability to do so.

Raising a child who would later write “The Godfather”? We all owe Mama a debt of gratitude for that one. ...more
5

Jul 05, 2010

This story blows 'The Godfather' out of the water; in fact, the matriarch/protagonist Lucia Santa was the basis for the Don, himself, and she rules her family with an iron fist. I absolutely loved how Mario Puzo seamlessly paints Great Depression Manhattan; you are also trying to cool off on Tenth Avenue with the rest of the residents of the West Side's Italian tenements on a hot July evening -- coincidentally, the same streets where I now work today. It's a quintessential American tale of This story blows 'The Godfather' out of the water; in fact, the matriarch/protagonist Lucia Santa was the basis for the Don, himself, and she rules her family with an iron fist. I absolutely loved how Mario Puzo seamlessly paints Great Depression Manhattan; you are also trying to cool off on Tenth Avenue with the rest of the residents of the West Side's Italian tenements on a hot July evening -- coincidentally, the same streets where I now work today. It's a quintessential American tale of coming to a new country with hopes of making a better life for yourself, but facing setback upon setback along the way -- yet this family manages to laugh and love despite it all (I'm very drawn to these sorts of stories, where I recognize a lot of my own family in the day-to-day strife of someone else's.) I devoured this book in 24 hours. ...more
4

Oct 11, 2017

This is the second book written by Mario Puzo. Puzo was working to be a literary writer at the time. He said he was disappointed that he still had to work full time after his first book and then, after this book, had to work two jobs. Somehow The Fortunate Pilgrim managed to leave him in worse financial straits than he was in before its publication. In the book there are sequences in which an older brother of the narrator is hired by a local gangster to collect "dues" from local merchants. His This is the second book written by Mario Puzo. Puzo was working to be a literary writer at the time. He said he was disappointed that he still had to work full time after his first book and then, after this book, had to work two jobs. Somehow The Fortunate Pilgrim managed to leave him in worse financial straits than he was in before its publication. In the book there are sequences in which an older brother of the narrator is hired by a local gangster to collect "dues" from local merchants. His publishers suggested that if he was to build on that idea he might have a more successful book. Thus The Godfather was written.

Puzo said this book changed during its writing. He had started out wanting to write about a brilliant young writer in an Italian family who is never fully appreciated. While some of that feeling still breaks through in the book, the true focus becomes the mother of an Italian family. She leaves her native Sicily for America to marry a man she had never met. That man died on the job, leaving her a widow with children. A second marriage to a long-time bachelor leaves her in a loveless marriage and provides a loveless father to her children. Eventually his insanity leaves her as a single mother a second time.

The book follows this family through deaths and marriages, watching the mother raise a family in inner-city poverty until, after the children are grown, she is able to leave the poor neighborhood for a more comfortable life.

The love and respect Puzo has for the mother comes through clearly, and he said that her protective instincts became part of the model for Don Corleone in The Godfather.

The Puzo/narrator character comes across as an unloved child, as Puzo outlined in his original concept for the novel. It's a lighter theme in the book, however. What does come through is a vital Italian family that survives several crises without losing its unity and underlying affection for each other. This is sometimes expressed in swats, curses, yelling, and motherly manipulation but the affection is there all the same.

The book has its weaknesses, and I think those who encouraged him to put a different focus in his work had the right idea. The Godfather, particularly the films, had an influence on culture for good or bad in far more powerful ways than this book ever would have.  Both books are rich in characters and are tributes to family survival. Placing that family into a world of crime and Shakespearean intrigue gave the story a vitality that this book never reaches. Still, it's an interesting book for what it is, a photo of that culture in that time. For fans of Puzo's later works it also sets an atmosphere for those books and gives a peek at Puzo's writing in a different context. ...more
4

Oct 28, 2013

"There is a price to be paid,yet one dreams that happiness can come without the terrible payments."

I have to give The Fortunate Pilgrim a clear four stars because, not only is Mario Puzo awesome (may he rest in peace), but the whole way through this novel I felt like I could completely understand the Angelucci-Corbo's and their whole familia. I mean maybe not completely-one hundred percent, but very close. I grew up in an European household and the similarities are surreal; down-right scary if "There is a price to be paid,yet one dreams that happiness can come without the terrible payments."

I have to give The Fortunate Pilgrim a clear four stars because, not only is Mario Puzo awesome (may he rest in peace), but the whole way through this novel I felt like I could completely understand the Angelucci-Corbo's and their whole familia. I mean maybe not completely-one hundred percent, but very close. I grew up in an European household and the similarities are surreal; down-right scary if you ask me. *shudders*

This is simple and quaint story about a immigrant family who traveled to a new land in search of the American Dream, not knowing that once they arrived the would only face many more hardships, and heartaches. The Angelucci-Corbo family consisted of many children, two of which are humble bread winners, and the matriarch Lucia Santa. The story battles with the difficulty that was coming to a new country, finding work and feeding yourself and, keeping with old-world traditions for the sake of the children who were quickly growing up more American. This book was an excellent example of how life used to be when there wasn't cell phones to get distracted by, the people in this were much simpler; more tragic in the way they lived. Times were hard for many and other's starved, but the folks in the tenements scrimped, saved, and stole - they did what they had to to get by sometimes.




Don't be fooled, just because this is Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather, doesn't mean you are going to get mafioso shoot-outs, or drive-by's with tommy-guns, here in this story things are more conservative. This is a great view into the times when some of our great-great-great grandparents had come over trying to make a life for themselves that was worth living. It's a fictional tale but almost like a history lesson too, it's an all-round good time.

A classic tale from start to finish. ...more
2

Jul 29, 2018

2.5 stars. It's obvious that The Fortunate Pilgrim is highly likely to reflect the early experiences and family's life of its author, Mario Puzo, when he grew up in the Italian community in Hell's Kitchen, New York.

Mr. Puzo also made it no secret that the story's heroine, Lucia Santa, is based on his only mother, a single mother who raised handful of children as best she could in utter hardship in the 1920s era.

Although this novel gives us a fine picture of the Italian community in New York, its 2.5 stars. It's obvious that The Fortunate Pilgrim is highly likely to reflect the early experiences and family's life of its author, Mario Puzo, when he grew up in the Italian community in Hell's Kitchen, New York.

Mr. Puzo also made it no secret that the story's heroine, Lucia Santa, is based on his only mother, a single mother who raised handful of children as best she could in utter hardship in the 1920s era.

Although this novel gives us a fine picture of the Italian community in New York, its residents and their livelihoods; still the story itself looks kind of dull and there is hardly any trace of dark humor which can be found among Mr. Puzo's more famous novels such as The Godfather etc. So, though the story is well written enough, I cannot give it 3 stars. ...more
4

Jun 19, 2010

An interesting book about an Italian family, in a tough neighbourhood in New York, in the 20's.

Mama Lucia is the mother of 3 sons and a daughter, in hard times.
She is raising her kids on the traditional Italian way.

While the boys are wilder and are up to mischief, daughter Octavia helps Lucia with the householding and helps her brothers to get them on track.

This story shows a decade of this family, where the children grow up. So it's a coming of age as well.

While making progress with this An interesting book about an Italian family, in a tough neighbourhood in New York, in the 20's.

Mama Lucia is the mother of 3 sons and a daughter, in hard times.
She is raising her kids on the traditional Italian way.

While the boys are wilder and are up to mischief, daughter Octavia helps Lucia with the householding and helps her brothers to get them on track.

This story shows a decade of this family, where the children grow up. So it's a coming of age as well.

While making progress with this book I felt more and more involved with the children, and less with Lucia where she is getting older and couldn't accept the choices of her kids.

A moving and compelling story about a poor Italian family, I really liked.
Interesting aspect as well.

...more
5

Mar 11, 2013

This book gives an inside look at an Italian family struggling in Hell's Kitchen (NYC) in the two decades before World War II. Some have said it is the prequel to the Godfather books, although not directly. Mario Puzo took great care in every sentence he wrote and his work reflects those efforts. This wonderful story was a great read and I highly recommend it.
5

Jul 26, 2018

Beautifully, honestly, and skillfully written. A wonderfully heart-wrenching tail of a first generation, widowed matriarch.
4

Dec 16, 2010

Realistic touching family drama.

I loved The Godfather and this book is a favorite as well. This is a story of an Italian family living in poverty and how they struggled through. It's not just about family members prevailing through tragedy, but it's also each member finding a role in life. It's an inspiring tale of a family in the Depression era and of family stife and love, sacrifice and pain. Looking at the family's struggle from today's wealth it is hard to comprehend a family never knowing Realistic touching family drama.

I loved The Godfather and this book is a favorite as well. This is a story of an Italian family living in poverty and how they struggled through. It's not just about family members prevailing through tragedy, but it's also each member finding a role in life. It's an inspiring tale of a family in the Depression era and of family stife and love, sacrifice and pain. Looking at the family's struggle from today's wealth it is hard to comprehend a family never knowing when their next meal is going to come from. However, Mario Puzo's superb writing style makes you feel for this family almost as if you are there with them. Highly recommend. ...more
2

Mar 06, 2016

The Fortunate Pilgrim is an immigrant story featuring Lucia Santa. Her family has moved from Italy and finds themselves in Hells Kitchen, New York. In a somewhat autobiographical story (Lucia Santa being his real life mother), she has to go through a great deal of adversity as a single mom raising six children. The story is filled with tragedy: one son commits suicide, a daughter spent significant time in a sanitorium, another son is muscle for the Mafia. Despite all of that Lucia finds ways to The Fortunate Pilgrim is an immigrant story featuring Lucia Santa. Her family has moved from Italy and finds themselves in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. In a somewhat autobiographical story (Lucia Santa being his real life mother), she has to go through a great deal of adversity as a single mom raising six children. The story is filled with tragedy: one son commits suicide, a daughter spent significant time in a sanitorium, another son is muscle for the Mafia. Despite all of that Lucia finds ways to persevere and keep her family together.

I’m a huge fan of Mario Puzo and thoroughly enjoy his gangster novels. This is why I found this novel particularly disappointing. The prose is still high quality. Mario Puzo is a fantastic writer that as a fellow writer I can appreciate. But I could never get into the story. The plot had a rambling quality that seemed to lack focus. It just went from one event to the other and didn’t have any tightness. Out of all the Puzo novels I have read, this is easily the worst. Unless you are a hardcore Puzo fan, I would advise skipping it.

Carl Alves – author of Blood Street ...more
4

Mar 03, 2018


It feels good to go back in time and read a classic. I read The Godfather by Mario Puzo many years ago and indeed it is a classic. The Fortunate Pilgrim, written before The Godfather and published in 1965 is no less so. But unlike The Godfather, The Last Don and many of Puzos legendary novels centred around men, this book is about an uneducated, peasant woman, Lucia Santa, plonked into New Yorks Hells Kitchen from Italy.

It is said that Lucia Santa is Puzos mother and what a woman she must have
It feels good to go back in time and read a classic. I read The Godfather by Mario Puzo many years ago and indeed it is a classic. The Fortunate Pilgrim, written before The Godfather and published in 1965 is no less so. But unlike The Godfather, The Last Don and many of Puzo’s legendary novels centred around men, this book is about an uneducated, peasant woman, Lucia Santa, plonked into New York’s Hell’s Kitchen from Italy.

It is said that Lucia Santa is Puzo’s mother and what a woman she must have been. Her life as you can expect, is not easy with six children, one dead husband and another husband with mental illness. Lucia Santa, has the strength of several men, ruling her family with an iron fist through the Depression and War. Like so many women past and present around the world, she can’t afford to succumb to self-pity and has no choice than to work hard to protect and nurture her brood in order to survive.

Puzo captures summer in New York in the Tenements with the community of Italian women whose lives were governed by poverty yet pioneers in their own right. … ‘they moved in a sadder wilderness, where the language was strange, where their children became members of a different race.’

The language is almost poetic as we are introduced to Lucia’s seventeen-year-old son Lorenzo, riding his black horse through the streets of New York in 1928. One by one, Puzo allows us into the lives of the older children, tantalising glimpses of other families on the street and takes us on a journey of struggle, despair, and joy until the second World War.

The characters are well drawn and we learn of the petty small mindedness of the community in which Lucia Santa lives. ‘What cronies they were. How they ran to each other’s apartments, up and down the stairs, into the adjoining tenements… taste this special dish. After the initial pity and condolences, the true face of the world showed itself to Lucia Santa.’

The writing inspirational and is truly a wonderful chronical of a matriarch and the immigrant’s life.

...more
5

Oct 09, 2013

The Godfather would not have been born if it were not for The Fortunate Pilgrim. The book is so well written and poetic at times. All the characters are so well developed for a seemingly short book. That is how great Puzos writing is to me. There is so much substanance and depth in his story you would think the book was over five hundred pages.

It is easy to see when you begin to read this masterpiece about the story of Lucia Santa, why some has called the book the real Godfather story.

Puzo once The Godfather would not have been born if it were not for The Fortunate Pilgrim. The book is so well written and poetic at times. All the characters are so well developed for a seemingly short book. That is how great Puzo’s writing is to me. There is so much substanance and depth in his story you would think the book was over five hundred pages.

It is easy to see when you begin to read this masterpiece about the story of Lucia Santa, why some has called the book the “real Godfather” story.

Puzo once said that Lucia Santa is a hero and based on his own mother. He said that whenever the Godfather spoke he heard his mother’s voice, the wisdom, ruthlessness, and the undying love for her family and for life. The loyalty and courage you saw from the Don, all those traits came from her. And he says he could not have written The Godfather without Lucia Santa.

I adore Lucia Santa. The more I got to know her; the more I would keep hearing in my head the theme song from The Godfather movie. Especially after heated conversation or confrontation with Lucia and some sucker who decided to go toe to toe with her. I admire Lucia Santa for keeping the traditions she brought from home and at the same time prioritizing that education comes before anything else.

She was scared to live an American lifestyle, afraid her children would not do the right thing. However, she knew in America was great opportunity for her children and that is why she left her home in Italy.

She did not know how much she would have to endure and suffer so that her children had those opportunities. And as she reflects on her life in the end, she realizes she would live out the past forty years three times over for the security and happiness, which at times, she felt she didn’t deserve.

I think the story effects me immensely because it is so relatable. I can connect to the story because of the cultural traditions and strength of his mother, the backbone that she had to raise all her children in a much different country than where she grew up. Lucia wanted to get the best America had to offer without losing any part of herself.

Mario Puzo…. What can I tell you that you probably haven’t heard? The story of your mother moved me. It is quite significant; I thought you were talking about my own mother at times. Your writing is unique in style and you do a remarkable job at describing an emerging lower Manhattan. The story of Angeluzzi-Corbo family reads like a movie.

This book definitely speaks to Godfather fans. It has all the great elements that made The Godfather a masterpiece: intense confrontations, betrayal, violence, Don on the rise, just great story telling.

I think the themes in this book resonate with many people in this country still today. The message in Puzo’s story is what we all want here are opportunity, and a chance at happiness. And we are more than willing to struggle for the sake of our families.
...more
3

Nov 01, 2017

I selected this book for the course I am teaching about the experiences of immigrants in America. In this case, the immigrants came from southern Italy to New York City. The author is best know for the Godfather series; however, Puzo considers this his favorite book. Puzo writes that this is a portrait of his family life, and the matriarch is based on his mother.

I have to say the book is very readable, but few of the characters were likeable, including Lucia Santa, the matriarch. She tried to I selected this book for the course I am teaching about the experiences of immigrants in America. In this case, the immigrants came from southern Italy to New York City. The author is best know for the Godfather series; however, Puzo considers this his favorite book. Puzo writes that this is a portrait of his family life, and the matriarch is based on his mother.

I have to say the book is very readable, but few of the characters were likeable, including Lucia Santa, the matriarch. She tried to keep her family together, but could be cruel and violent. Once she hit a child over the head and split open his head. Her second husband went insane and was placed into an institution. When he was ready to return home, she refused to authorize it and so he died in the institution. I understand her reasoning (he had try to kill one of their children), but she seldom visited him, but then became angry when one of her sons did not go to his father's funeral.

The author allowed us to see vignettes of the four oldest children and how they hope to succeed in America. The oldest daughter, Octavia, was the one I was impressed with. She took care of her younger siblings, even though she had dreams and ambitions of her own. Gino wanted to be free of his family and especially of his mother. He was elated when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Within a few days, he had enlisted in the Army and never returned home.

So the reader gets a picture of the Italian-American culture in the 1920's through the 1940's. I am glad I did not live in this culture as portrayed by Puzo. If you want to know where the book took place, visit the High Line in New York around the Hudson Yards. Except for the trains sitting at the West Side Rail Yard, nothing else looks the same.

2/26/20: I have reread the book and my earlier review has not changed. ...more
2

Jul 30, 2014

I'm not sure why this Puzo 'heartfelt' work sold so poorly and the Godfather became all the rage, but I just couldn't muscle up any connection with this awful, pitiful, spider-like family - there's nearly nothing admirable about them. For all that Lucia Santa is constantly correcting and smacking and calling her children 'animales', that's exactly how they live - for survival, and nearly nothing more. Every dark and venial sin is explained away with the magic wand of poverty, every time that one I'm not sure why this Puzo 'heartfelt' work sold so poorly and the Godfather became all the rage, but I just couldn't muscle up any connection with this awful, pitiful, spider-like family - there's nearly nothing admirable about them. For all that Lucia Santa is constantly correcting and smacking and calling her children 'animales', that's exactly how they live - for survival, and nearly nothing more. Every dark and venial sin is explained away with the magic wand of poverty, every time that one of the character's true and rotten character shows through, there's some pity-inducing tale of woe about how someone didn't understand a dream or didn't support or didn't cherish. Puzo's one redeeming feature is his great grasp of descriptive language, but even with the happy ending of the family moving to Long Island, they'll find quarrels and backstabbing and betrayal in their longed-for earthly paradise. Probably the most evocative part comes down to Lucia Santa's heartfelt cry at the 10th Avenue table, that she wanted all of her blessings without suffering or judgment. For all of Puzo's sophistication in understanding the 'ways of the world' and the necessities of payment for advantage, his worldly wisdom doesn't grasp the fact that God won't let us off the hook of sin without payment or consequence. ...more
4

Mar 07, 2018

I loved this audiobook, and feel that I have now personally lived in the New York tenements with Italian immigrants during the Depression. I can taste the olive oil, feel the overcrowded rooms, smell the ironing and the cooking on the stove, see the faces of the children and the crones that make up the daily life of a matriarch in such a setting.

It was a total immersion into a way of life and being that one could see only in the background of the Godfather films. The focus of this story is I loved this audiobook, and feel that I have now personally lived in the New York tenements with Italian immigrants during the Depression. I can taste the olive oil, feel the overcrowded rooms, smell the ironing and the cooking on the stove, see the faces of the children and the crones that make up the daily life of a matriarch in such a setting.

It was a total immersion into a way of life and being that one could see only in the background of the Godfather films. The focus of this story is totally on the domestic sphere, away from the men's world (except for momentary glimpses occasionally). It captures the perceptions of the women and children, the nuances of every gesture and glance, unspoken criticisms, delusions, memories, comparisons to life in the old country, motherly pride and anxiety. I have never read another book like it. The insight into all of the characters, flaws and all, is penetrating, illuminating.

In the introduction, the author says this is the story of his mother. That may be so, but it is also the timeless story of the experience of immigration, the ever-present clash of cultures in the everyday things like food, language, customs, assumptions, and the experience of a powerful archetypal Italian mother. Well worth reading, and re-reading!
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4

Sep 21, 2011

The first assigned reading that I really sped through and wanted to read. I seriously couldn't wait until I could read the next section. Full of suspense and the ending is perfect. You are left punched in the gut, but also satisfied. It's weird, but that's why I love this book, because I didn't know what to expect.
An Italian family is assimilating to the United States (well, most of them). Lucia Santa, the protagonist and mother, stays true to her Italian ways. All she wants is the American The first assigned reading that I really sped through and wanted to read. I seriously couldn't wait until I could read the next section. Full of suspense and the ending is perfect. You are left punched in the gut, but also satisfied. It's weird, but that's why I love this book, because I didn't know what to expect.
An Italian family is assimilating to the United States (well, most of them). Lucia Santa, the protagonist and mother, stays true to her Italian ways. All she wants is the American Dream. In the end, she achieves the American Dream, but with a price. She loses members of her family (which is all she ever cared about)and suffers through hard times. In order to achieve the American Dream, one must become accustomed to their ways, which is cruel and uses deceit to get there. Some are willing to pay the price and others are not. There is a lot of symbolism, including the tenements where they lived, being so far away from civilization and the country. They are stuck in their own Italian/American world. ...more
4

Apr 28, 2012

A gorgeous, vivid depiction of daily life of one Italian family in pre-war New York. In The Fortunate Pilgrim, Puzo shares the joys and travails of Lucia Santa as an immigrant to America. In some ways, the book is little more than a familial narrative with only the timeline of life serving as its plot. And yet, the way Puzo lays bare the shortcomings of this family, tempers their triumphs, describes inter-family relationships, all while recreating the New York of long ago, you will not miss the A gorgeous, vivid depiction of daily life of one Italian family in pre-war New York. In The Fortunate Pilgrim, Puzo shares the joys and travails of Lucia Santa as an immigrant to America. In some ways, the book is little more than a familial narrative with only the timeline of life serving as its plot. And yet, the way Puzo lays bare the shortcomings of this family, tempers their triumphs, describes inter-family relationships, all while recreating the New York of long ago, you will not miss the everyday plotlines found in most other books or stories. The one drawback to this style of writing is that there is little action bringing you back for more reading. It took a long time for me to finish this book since, like a journal, I felt like I was simply reading a series of events. However, unlike a journal, the Fortunate Pilgrim was written so beautifully with its details of its characters and New York settings that the scenes Puzo wrote almost felt like my own personal memories. The prose and imagery just touched me. I highly recommend this book! ...more
5

Feb 01, 2018

Like pretty much the rest of the world, I have seen the Godfather movies multiple times, but this is the first book written by Mario Puzo that I've read. It was beautifully written, and clearly material close to Mr. Puzo's heart.
This book is an homage to Mr. Puzo's mother and I believe, based on their lives in Hell's Kitchen as Italian immigrants (the children were born here; the mother was the immigrant). It follows their story for a span of about 40 years.
Mario Puzo's talent for descriptive Like pretty much the rest of the world, I have seen the Godfather movies multiple times, but this is the first book written by Mario Puzo that I've read. It was beautifully written, and clearly material close to Mr. Puzo's heart.
This book is an homage to Mr. Puzo's mother and I believe, based on their lives in Hell's Kitchen as Italian immigrants (the children were born here; the mother was the immigrant). It follows their story for a span of about 40 years.
Mario Puzo's talent for descriptive writing almost made me smell the panetteria, the freight cars and the hot July streets. I could almost taste the crusty bread and pasta fagioli. I felt like I was running the streets with Gino or that my heart was breaking with Lucia Santa.
From what I understand, this was Mario Puzo's second book, and didn't do nearly as well as The Godfather. I feel this book is a classic and an amazing portrayal of early immigrant life in New York City. I have a new admiration and respect for Mario Puzo after reading this book. ...more
4

May 28, 2018

Puzo's second novel...the one he considered his best, most literary, and most intimate. He also thought it was going make him famous...that wouldn't come for another 5 years when he published his third novel, "The Godfather."

Thoroughly enjoyed this book which he intended to be about a young Italian writer but ended up being about an immigrant Italian matriarch and her family in an Upper West Side tenement beginning in 1928 and running into World War II. The book concludes with the family's Puzo's second novel...the one he considered his best, most literary, and most intimate. He also thought it was going make him famous...that wouldn't come for another 5 years when he published his third novel, "The Godfather."

Thoroughly enjoyed this book which he intended to be about a young Italian writer but ended up being about an immigrant Italian matriarch and her family in an Upper West Side tenement beginning in 1928 and running into World War II. The book concludes with the family's "escape" to a Long Island suburb. The intervening story is full of well-developed characters, tragedy, comedy, economic survival and the clash of Old World & American values.

This is my first Puzo novel and the description I read somewhere that it's a mix of Proust and pulp seems apt. Enjoyed his style and looking forward to reading "The Godfather" to see what might have changed. ...more
4

Jan 30, 2011

It has been years since I read The Godfather, the book that made Mario Puzo famous. But this novel was considered by him to be his finest work. If you enjoyed The Godfather, you should check out this book about the struggles of an Italian immigrant family who lived in The West side of New York, or Hell's Kitchen. The heroine, Lucia Santa, is said to have been inspired by Puzo's own mother. He has such a gift of so vividly describing characters and place, that the reader is transported there, and It has been years since I read The Godfather, the book that made Mario Puzo famous. But this novel was considered by him to be his finest work. If you enjoyed The Godfather, you should check out this book about the struggles of an Italian immigrant family who lived in The West side of New York, or Hell's Kitchen. The heroine, Lucia Santa, is said to have been inspired by Puzo's own mother. He has such a gift of so vividly describing characters and place, that the reader is transported there, and one feels that he/she knows this family intimately.

A story both heartbreaking and compelling, it could be the story of any immigrant family during the time from the early 1920s through the outbreak of World War II. Some of the incidents in the book reminded me of stories of my own ancestors. ...more
5

May 10, 2018

Very interesting history of an Italian women who arrived in Brooklyn in 1828, to start a family and escape poverty in her own country of Italy. Soon she finds her status has not improved.. She continued to surrender to her husband's dominance, have his children, scrounge for food and bargain for necessities. Cook and clean and care for the family without a support system. Her first husband dies on the job before the baby is born. She marries again to find that he he has 2 personalities. She Very interesting history of an Italian women who arrived in Brooklyn in 1828, to start a family and escape poverty in her own country of Italy. Soon she finds her status has not improved.. She continued to surrender to her husband's dominance, have his children, scrounge for food and bargain for necessities. Cook and clean and care for the family without a support system. Her first husband dies on the job before the baby is born. She marries again to find that he he has 2 personalities. She learns to get by on their



income her children can bring in, as well as doing small tasks for others. A revealing background of family and different personalities involved. Only the hopeful and positive can survive.
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4

Jan 14, 2014

This work of fiction moved me so much that I couldn't believe that Puzo was capable of such versatility. The impressive story about the struggling mother and her indigent family members, each with their own magnificent stories about challenging family ties, never ceased to teach me about how endurance with loved ones at several life crises strengthens your inner self. Each character being so very detailed and intricate, turned out extremely satisfying and lovable to such extent that picking one This work of fiction moved me so much that I couldn't believe that Puzo was capable of such versatility. The impressive story about the struggling mother and her indigent family members, each with their own magnificent stories about challenging family ties, never ceased to teach me about how endurance with loved ones at several life crises strengthens your inner self. Each character being so very detailed and intricate, turned out extremely satisfying and lovable to such extent that picking one as a favorite seemed just impossible.

Taking a risk to write about a book which doesn't include violence or themes of vengeance, menace or even ordinary crime, Puzo strived in delivering a masterpiece. ...more

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