Culture & Criticism Since 2003
For nearly a decade, HBO’s The Sopranos captivated the country, with an array of Mafia wives exhibiting both strength and insight while carrying countless sub-plots forward. But as good as The Sopranos was, it could not supplant the real story. And that’s just what The Good Mothers is – the real story of the women who came forward to attack the inner-workings of Southern Italy’s most brutal Mafia. As many a mobster film has taught us, organized crime is premised on the concept of “Omerta” – or the code of silence. And until the code gets broken, prosecutors have little chance to infiltrate the syndicate. In turn, The Good Mothers tells how Italian prosecutor Alessandra Cerreti convinced two Mafia wives to turn state’s evidence and expose Calabria’s ruthless gangland in exchange for a second chance at life for themselves and their kids. Alex Perry’s writing here shines, as a he uses the sharp eye of a journalist to capture all sides of the story. In essence, the mission of Perry’s reportage is to document how the male-dominated universe of Calabria ultimately shot down its Mafia, showing us that since these women weren’t regarded as actual people by their men, there was no reason for them to live in loyalty. The Good Mothers reads like a movie, and aficionados of gangster films will love it as they fantasize about what The Godfather would have looked like had Kay Adams testified against Michael Corleone.