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Mafia Wife: My Story of Love, Murder, and Madness


Mafia Wife: My Story of Love, Murder, and Madness

Louie Milito was a member of the Gambino family, a "goodfella," a "made guy," "a friend of ours" who disappeared one night in 1988. He was murdered, it turned out, as part of a power play by family underboss Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, Milito's childhood friend. Milito left behind a fractured, badly damaged family who, to this day, continue to feel the effect of living in the wake of his violent, unpredictable life and his sudden, violent death.

MAFIA WIFE is the brutally honest story of Milito's widow, Lynda. Her story reads like a hybrid of the movies Goodfellas and Witness to the Mob, as well as the television show The Sopranos. Indeed, Lynda herself indicates that Witness to the Mob was based, in part, on her life with Louie, and that there is a creative connection between that film and The Sopranos. There are certainly elements of her life in all three works: a nice Jewish girl meets an Italian bad boy who is connected. She marries for love, but it is love inexorably linked with a desire to escape a home life that is cold and unloving. The qualities that attract her to him --- his confidence, his attentiveness, his strength of personality, and yes, his brutality --- are ultimately the very things that repel her when she is the target of their extremes.

Lynda is quite honest and forthright about the conflicting emotions she experienced, and lived with, while married to Louie Milito. While she was damaged emotionally well before she met Louie, his physical and emotional abuse, combined with his mood swings and chosen occupation, rendered her an emotional wreck. Yet she stayed with him, in part out of duty to her children and husband, in part due to the material wealth he accumulated secondary to his criminal enterprises. Lynda acknowledges in the Epilogue to MAFIA WIFE that she has continued to experience emotional problems --- she tacitly acknowledges that her penchant for becoming enmeshed in destructive relationships continues to this day --- but she continues to struggle to overcome her problems and, failing that, to deal with them.

MAFIA WIFE is fascinating on a number of levels. It reads like a long, rambling conversation that frequently trails off onto tangents but that you would nonetheless stay up all night to listen to --- or, in this case, to read. This technique, which I believe is natural and unintentional, makes MAFIA WIFE all the more interesting to read. While this is an extremely interesting tale, it is anything but uplifting. The reality of these people, living outside of the law, is closer to Reservoir Dogs than to The Sopranos. The life that Louie Milito chose for himself, and for his family, will undoubtedly have repercussions for generations. This, ultimately, is the lesson to be learned from MAFIA WIFE.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on May 13, 2003

Mafia Wife: My Story of Love, Murder, and Madness
Lynda Milito with Reg Potterton

  • Publication Date: May 13, 2003
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0066212618
  • ISBN-13: 9780066212616