The Godmothers: A Novel

Written by Camille Aubray
Review by Janice Ottersberg

The Godmothers are four women in an Italian immigrant family living in Greenwich Village – Lucy, Amie, and Filomena have each married a son, and Petrina is the daughter. The story, which takes place between 1930 and 1957, is framed by one of the godmothers narrating their story from later in life. Each woman is the godmother to another’s child, and they end up running the family’s businesses in a gangster-run New York City, thus earning the title of Godmothers. Aubray begins with a page-turning, captivating back story of each woman, and reveals a secret from each of their pasts that the reader knows will inevitably come to light, as secrets do, and upend their lives.

The patriarch, Gianni, and the matriarch, Tessa, run the family businesses. They invest in properties and collect the rents; loans are made to people banks won’t touch; they cover bookies who can’t meet their payouts; and gambling thrives in their bar’s back room. The family must pay tributes to boss Frank Costello and the police to protect their operations. When Gianni and Tessa die, the businesses go to the sons. Before long, Frankie is on the run, Mario goes to war, and Johnny is ill in a tuberculosis sanatorium.

The Godmothers are now in charge of the family and its businesses. They must be clever and savvy in navigating the world of organized crime while keeping their families safe and the businesses successful. The women have their disagreements and resentments between them, but the good of the family always rules.

Aubray shines in her ability to bring each woman alive with distinct personalities, and to weave individual stories and different plots into one cohesive story. This novel is rich in plot with all the elements of family drama, murder, romance, and secrets within the world of organized crime. Enjoy immersing yourself into this family’s story.