Thursday Reviews: Divorced From The Mob by Andrea Giovino, Emma by Jane Austen

Divorced From The Mob: My Journey From Organized Crime To Independent Woman

Andrea Giovino with Gary Bozek

Andrea Giovino once was the darling of the New York Mafia. Charming, vivacious, and blunt as hell, she impressed John Gotti by barking at several wiseguys at a nightclub for treating a friend like dirt. But it all came crashing down in the early 1990’s. Her common law husband, John Fogerty (not the guy from Creedence Clearwater Revival) and her brother, John Silvestri, were busted on a pot-running operation. It was at that point “Andy,” as her friends call her, realized she needed to get out. Ironically, the very reason she got into the mob in the first place was what drove her away finally. She wanted to provide for her four children and avoid the crushing poverty of her Brooklyn childhood.

Giovino gives a detailed account of how she started out stealing bread for her dysfunctional (and very large) family to her early days as a model in Manhattan to dating mob notables such as capo Frank Leno, Gotti confidant Mark Ryder, and of course, Fogerty, an Irish operator with ties to the Gambino family. Giovino doesn’t white wash what she did and why. If anything, she apologizes and takes responsibility, admitting she has been very, very lucky, especially after refusing Witness Protection.

I listened to this on audio, read by Giovino. She gets a bit repetitious, and sometimes, you wonder how she stayed out of jail as long as she did. But in the end, she comes off more as a relieved mother. There’s none of the crocodile tears or rehearsed contrition of such famous mobsters as Sammy “The Bull” Gravano.

Emma

Jane Austen

For a while, it seemed like Jane Austen had become the darling of Hollywood. Clueless, an updated retelling of one of Austen’s novels, and Emma, a Gwyneth Paltrow vehicle, brought this Regency-era author to the public’s attention after she languished as an entry on high school English reading lists. However, Emma was described by her author as being about a heroine likeable to no one but Austen herself.

That heroine is Emma Woodhouse, and successfully fixing up her governess with a local widower, she fancies herself a matchmaker. Mr. Knightley, a family friend and another widower (likely ripe for matchmaking as well), warns Emma that she meddles too much in other people’s affairs. Undaunted, she attempts to fix up her friend Harriet, an illegitimate child, with the young, handsome local vicar, Mr. Elton. Elton, however, is a social climber, and a woman of questionable origin and no fortune will not do. He instead proposes to Emma. Horrified at her plans going awry, she rejects him. Elton leaves town for a while, returning three months later with a woman of even more means than Emma.

And an enormous ego to match her higher station.

Austen described this as a comedy of manners, and that it is. Emma swears off matchmaking for a time, only to be tempted by new suitors for Harriet and also for her new friend, Jane Fairfax. Predictably, these go awry as well, both because of Emma’s misreading of her friends’ (male and female) intentions. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read, though the language was a surpise (or, as Austen wrote it, “surprize”). Plus this was written in the years following the War of 1812. So the idea of a sixteen mile trip into London – my morning commute – is something of an ordeal: No cars, no trains, no paved roads. Instead of riding a rented handsome down to the rail station to ride into the city (or just jumping into the Family Truckster and driving for half an hour), it’s a process to hook up a carriage and ride over rutted roads in questionable weather.

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