Rosalie Bonanno doesn't write a book describing the details of being a man in the mob. She really has no clue about that. She was married to one of the most powerful man in organized crime in the 1970's but gives superb insight to being a daughter and eventual mother involved in organized crime. Mafia Marriage co written by Beverly Donofrio takes the reader from New England run by the mob in the 1950's to a struggling marriage based on lies and deceit in the early eighties. Joe Profaci, a notorious mob boss was determined to form an alliance with the Joe Bonanno and eventually succeeded when Rosalie married Salvatore Bonanno.
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The Beginning of a Marriage
To say that Rosalie Profaci was naive when first meeting Salvatore Bonanno is an understatement. He was her tall, dark and handsome prince. They had a fairy tale wedding complete with the stacks of envelopes filled with money passed from hand to hand.
early in the book Rosalie acknowledges that she did have some reservations about what the Profaci and the Bonanno families were involved in. These reservations were not major enough for her to call off the marriage between her and Bill Bonanno, however as a newlywed she realizes that maybe happily ever after is going to take some work.
Bill Bonanno at this time was involved in a mob war with another mafia family. His long absences and volatile moods wear heavily on Rosalie who cannot get pregnant. Her subsequent miscarriages warrant Bill talking her to Arizona where he still conducts business. After finally acknowledging that Rosalie is lonely in Arizona, Bill comes home one night with a baby that he lays in Rosalieís arms. Her surprise and questions are dismissed by Bill who simply says itís our son now, take care of him.
Rosalie's loneliness and depression wrecks havoc on her marriage after she reveals that Bill had a serious affair while in Arizona. Bills mistress, angry that Bill refuses to leave Rosalie threatens to go to the police and talk. Rosalie, after swallowing her pride, goes to Bill's mistress and convinces her that she is leaving Bill. its not really explained how they get the mistress to calm down but for a wife to have to do that would be terrible.
Things get worse for the Bonannos as the years go by and eventually Bill is sent to federal prison and Rosalie is left to support the family on her own. She moves to California and gets a steady job. At this time she has three children and with no money from Bill, their once lavish lifestyle has been limited to penny pinching. Rosalie admits that there were times that she thought she had an exciting life, being swept off to see her husband hiding out from the police. She then goes on to say that the lifestyle wasn't healthy for her kids at all. After Bill is let out of prison for the last time they decide to make a new start and leave organized crime behind.
There are many things that I liked and disliked about Mafia Marriage. For one she was as honest as a lovingly wife could be. She relates that Bill's attitudes about marriage and the role of a wife threatened to destroy their marriage. She also acknowledges that her nativity at first blinded her to the dangerous situations she was in when she was younger. Rosalie Bonanno was not dumb in the middle of her marriage. she knew where the money came from and accepted that the life that Bill lived contributed to her children having the finer things in life. The question becomes is the mafia life enough to sustain a family on the brink of falling apart. Is a father in jail worth the fact that their kids didn't have one while growing up. Rosalie Bonanno explores all of this and more in her book .
For anyone looking for information on the insides of the mob, this really isn't the book. Rosalie Bonanno writes about religion and keeping a family together. "Bound by Honor" by Bill Bonanno gives more of an inside view of organized crime
There is a great TV movie based on this book. Its called "Love Honor and Obey The last mafia Marriage" This movie stars Nancy McKeon and Eric Roberts