The Godmother

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 14 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

Unfortunately this story just didn't hold my interest. I could sympathize with the situation Patience Portefeux found herself in but that was as far as it went.

A NetGalley ARC
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A little disappointed with this book as for me the storyline wasn’t strong and seemed to go round the houses to get anywhere. I felt the title of the book wasn’t really connected all that much with the book either.  There was only the one main character and I couldn’t warm to her and I am not a big reader of books involving drug gangs.
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Talk about a potboiler!  This slim volume packs a big story.  Patience has been a Ministry of Justice translator for many years; she's been living on the thin edge of paycheck to paycheck and she's got a lot of pressures.  In one moment, she makes the decision to get into a drug deal which leads quickly to her becoming a crime queen herself.  This would make a great movie, especially as Patience tries to deal with her family, especially her mother and her boyfriend, while building her power.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  A fun quick read.
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I’m not sure where to begin or how to begin. Not my favorite book, but honesty compels me to give The Godmother at least four stars. Who knows, by the end of this review I might have changed my mind all over again. I am vacillating, which is something new to me. Maybe. Sometimes.
The life story of the widow Patience Portefeux is at times, amusing, other times poignant. Brought up in luxurious neglect for most of the year, Patience is the daughter of a Tunisian born Mafiosi and a camp survivor. She is widowed at an early age and left in genteel poverty with two daughters; she must work almost constantly to keep the genteel part of their poverty realistic.
.Patience has worked for 25 years as a Franco-Arab translator for the courts but her main source of income is from being the translator of the product from the wiretaps of various drug squads. She translates the diverse Arabic dialects into French. Patience’s boyfriend, the kind Philippe, is promoted to head one of the drug squads.
At 53, instead of looking forward to an easier life in retirement, Patience is reaching the stage of truly desperate because of school fees for her daughters and nursing home care for her mother.
One day, translating a wiretap intercept, Patience figures a way out of her almost hopeless dilemma. She is able to intervene in a massive drug deal and she ultimately becomes the mysterious Godmother. Patience is not greedy; she just wants her mother cared for and for her daughters to have a bit more security. 
I will have to assume Stephanie Smee’s translation to be on point with Cayre’s writing stiletto sharp, shown in some cases by her skewering of certain aspects of French society while showing tenderness to other parts. 
It was a bit difficult to disregard my life history in order to appreciate Patience as an admirable anti-hero. Especially with the damage Patience did to some people who did not deserve it, her attitude verging on callousness. On the other hand, at the end, Patience partially redeemed herself doing some severe damage to people who deserved it.
I was fascinated by Cayre’s honest takes on French society. We might be newly encouraging racism, but we are nowhere as bad as the French seem to be. This is not just from The Godmother. I’ve just read two books back- to- back about France and the rampant racism to be found. Cayre is also coldly apprising on other social issues including the treatment of immigrants, the elderly and employment laws.
The first person narrative is by turns droll, grimly self appraising, and sometimes psychopathic. Cayre is often devastating, writing about putting dogs down then in the next paragraphs about life in nursing homes. Oh yes, the two are strongly connected. Then again, I still can’t figure out Patience’s explanations on how to launder money. Not that I need to, but one can dream.
Okay okay, I’m sticking with four stars. 
Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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I know this has gotten rave reviews, but this short novel about a French translator who uses conversations she translates for the police to become a drug lord didn't do much for me. The protagonist's abrasiveness isn't balanced by charm or wit, nor is the business she gets into particularly interesting or compelling. Mostly I felt sorry for her dog.
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Well written, interesting story and characters. Im not too fond of political thrillers but this was good.
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A well written story about a translator who speaks Arabic and her use of her skills to break in to the drug business. Faced with nursing home expenses for her mother and college fees for her daughter, the main character stumbles upon information during a translation job that leads her to a life of crime. Interesting premise although not entirely original. Well executed. The nursing home scenes were most creative.

Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley
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It was a no for me, not a fan of translated writing, I feel like something is always missing or misinterpreted. I had a hard time getting into the novel
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I judged a book by it's cover - I should've known better! Wasn't expecting a political thriller, so this wasn't for me. I also am not a huge fan of translated works as I feel the prose can become stilted.
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I always wanted to go to Paris and books that take place in Paris always catch my attention and with a strong female lead.  This is one such book.  While it was a little slow, I keep reading and I was not disappointed.  Patience, I loved her humor and I loved that the author made her seem real and someone I could relate to.  I enjoyed how she transform from a widowed mom of two  to "The Godmother," a strong merciless business woman.  It was a good read that I would recommend.
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This was a very well written fast paced read - both exciting and witty.  I found Patience so interesting, so likable (although she would disagree) and just so “French”.  I could not put this book down.  While the book is called “The Godmother”, that is only a part of her life. The book tells us about her childhood, her marriage and subsequent early widowhood when she is left with two young children.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved Patience. She had me chuckling a few times. Highly recommended 
Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review
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The Godmother is a unique fascinating story. It is well written and well developed characters. I would read more by this author.
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A fast paced read, that’s sure to be funny on the big screen. The premise of the story is broke, underpaid daughter taking care of Alzheimer’s ridden mother finds a way into drug dealing.
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Review: The Godmother by Hannelore Cayre, translated by Stephanie Smee

I wish to thank ECW Press and NetGalley for this advanced reader’s copy in return for my honest review.

I was interested in reading this book based on the description on the NetGalley site. I had high hopes. I was disappointed. The underlying story for The Godmother is a good one. The author took too long getting to this story. In fact, it took about 25% of the book before I was engaged at all. I was about to give up when the story finally began to evolve. It took over 50% of the book before the title had meaning. This is too slow of a start for me. Again...the underlying story kept me reading in hopes that the book would pick up and improve. It never really did. Once the story kicked in, it seemed that the author veered off the path into the weeds providing background that slowed the pace of the story. Although this background was necessary, it just seemed misplaced. Crawling out of these weeds took too long getting back to the main story. Maybe the main story was not fleshed out enough and this background was used to fill in the story. 

On a positive note, I did like Patience Portefeux (the main character and Godmother). She felt like a real person with real problems. I could understand her frustrations and choices. She had a sense of humor that I related to and enjoyed.

Being a bit generous, my star rating for this book is 3 stars.
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The Godmother takes you to a France that most Americans don't see depicted in books or movies: far from glamorous, not especially chic, no lingering in sidewalk cafés. Yet it couldn't be anything but French, from the thoughtful pacing to the willingness to have the narrator—a middle-aged, financially strapped woman—not only be unlikable but to also acknowledge that unlikability. There's not a single wasted word, and every scene is almost cinematically visual. If this review seems vague, that's because The Godmother is kind of difficult to describe; in tone it reminds me a bit of the Thomas Ripley novels, though the narrator is no soulless sociopath. I think you have to—and should—experience it for yourself (especially before seeing the upcoming French movie or the inevitable Americanized-for-the-worse remake).

Thank you, NetGalley and ECW Press, for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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