Things specified in the novel that were shown more subtly in the anime:
When the lady tells Avilio about the letter, he turns and dashes to her (you can hear his footsteps in the anime - it’s a nice detail)
He could hear the housewives badmouthing him, but he didn’t care.
The wallet he took the bills from was a stolen one. Underneath the bed were countless others he had acquired the same way.
‘Everything should have been burned. Why had he been sent this now? He stared fondly at the photo, though perhaps he had no right to.’ [emphasis mine; this was interesting to me; Avilio’s love for his family still overrides his curiosity about the letter, and his guilt over not being able to save them has affected his sense of self-worth]
The letter was something he couldn’t help wanting over the past seven years; a ‘fierce smile’ came to his face at the joy of acquiring it.
The novel skips a couple of conversational lines. Other points:
In the novel, Luce entreats Corteo to show him twice - the first time, Corteo blinks and says ‘eh?’; the second time, he reluctantly agrees.
He explained ‘confidently’, but was taken aback when asked to actually put those words into practice.
‘Corteo was an intelligent young boy. He had a wealth of knowledge stored up and was always reading difficult books. But he had a timid side to him.’
‘At Luce’s request, he stretched out his hand to the wick, but Angelo knew he was getting cold feet. So he reached out to the wick and pinched the flame between his index finger and thumb in Corteo’s place.’ [This is part of Angelo’s nature; he observes people and is proud that he can understand them. Even as a child, he protected Corteo.]
Angelo ‘smiled broadly’ at his younger brother, who was looking up at him with shining eyes. He ‘laughed wryly in his heart’ at Corteo, who was looking at him in surprise even though he had been the one to say it wasn’t hot.
The clock tolling in the anime was the wall clock; the time was seven PM.
Angelo’s birthday cake was on the table at the time.
Corteo’s lowering his head was a gesture of reluctance to take the money, but Angelo’s mother pressed it into his bag anyway.
When asked about his mother’s health, Corteo ‘smiled stiffly, an obvious lie’. This is from Angelo’s perspective - ‘His close friend was honest by nature and bad at lying.’
Angelo went outside to see Corteo off. ‘It was spring already, but the air outside was cold.’ It’s later specified that it’s April.
Corteo asks about Angelo doing the candle thing before; Angelo shakes his head. Going to quote this everywhere: ‘His best friend, looking at him in confusion, didn’t understand. Corteo was smart. Yet he didn’t understand that Angelo trusted what he said was right.’
‘The snow fluttering down from the dark sky was pretty, but also somewhat fearsome.’
The novel replaces the scene where Corteo waves to Angelo’s father with a small scene between Angelo and Luce. Angelo tells him that he saw the headlights from their father’s car and Luce is the one to suggest hiding in the closet, pulling on Angelo’s arm.
Angelo smiles a lot - in response to seeing his father, in response to ‘his cheeky younger brother’s prank’…
Luce was ‘sulky’ that the plans for the prank had to be put on hold because of the sudden visitor.
‘Vincent was the name of a man who worked with their father; Angelo knew him too.’ He couldn’t see the faces of the other two.
‘Angelo soothed Luce [by saying they’d go home soon’, but he didn’t know when they would either. He could only watch as their father poured drinks from the men.’ Luce says he hopes the men go home soon - Angelo silently agrees. ‘It was his birthday.’
‘That light dissatisfaction soon turned to unease.’
When he hears about the Don’s death, Avilio’s father ‘spoke in a low voice, as if holding back fury.’
When Angelo says ‘Keep quiet, they’ll go home soon’, ‘it might have been Angelo’s prayer’.
‘Angelo swallowed his fear. The birthday he was supposed to enjoy celebrating with his family……The birthday cake on the table; the treats their father had brought back with him. Their kind parents, laughing at Luce’s prank……That certain joy was being painted black by the muzzle of the gun pointed at their father. Fear gripped Angelo, paralyzing his body.’
After Vincent hits Angelo’s mother, he points the gun at her (not shown in the anime). After Luce runs to her, another man points his gun at them. [From the anime, looks like Vanno?]
‘Angelo could neither shut his eyes nor jump out from the closet. All he could do was watch the scene playing out before his eyes: his father being murdered.’ In the anime, he does squeeze his eyes shut and look away, but not for long.
Vincent smiles coldly at Angelo’s mother when she begs for him to spare Luce :(
‘“…………Nero……” Angelo knew the name of one more person who had killed his father and mother and younger brother. There was one more that he didn’t know. So he couldn’t die. He had to run before Nero came to the closet.’
‘He, unable to protect his parents or stop his brother, was the only one left in this hell. I should have died with them — the thought rose to mind. It would have been infinitely preferable to being left behind alone.’
The bang that startles Angelo is that of a closet being forcefully shut. He thinks he’s been found out and runs.
You can see the shadow of the fourth man’s hat as he runs away :O
He lived in a modest apartment. His father had been friends with Angelo’s from the same Family, but Testa was the Family accountant so he was treated better.
Angelo’s mother always looked after Corteo’s family, which had grown poor after his father had been killed. ‘Corteo was always grateful for but a little uncomfortable with that kindness. So he could be friends with Angelo as an equal, and so he could someday repay that debt, Corteo studied hard. Angelo’s father, who was capable of being an accountant, might have been close to his ideal, but in all truth he didn’t want to involve himself with the Family. Besides, he liked science more than mathematics. Corteo enjoyed reading science books he’d borrowed from the library after he put his ailing mother to sleep.’
He felt sorry for Angelo, who was trying to act mature even in his situation. He’d already heard what had happened. ‘For people who had parents working under the Family……under the mafia, this sort of thing was inevitable. Human life was cheap. Corteo’s father had been killed too.’
When Corteo speaks brightly to try and cheer Angelo up, Angelo starts crying. When the sobs die down a bit, Corteo stands and goes to put out the candle. ‘As Angelo trusted him, he trusted Angelo.’
‘Though they weren’t blood-related, Angelo was on par with a blood relative. He wanted to convey that feeling somehow.’ The meaning of that pledge is that Corteo would always be with him. Even though he’d lost his family, he wasn’t alone.
‘But when he awoke in the morning, Angelo had disappeared. Corteo didn’t know that Angelo had looked sadly at his sleeping figure and waved.’
Seven years later, Corteo is still living in the same house. Cerotto’s an information broker.
Corteo had hated the mafia since his father had been killed in a dispute.
‘“Please, Corteo,” said Angelo with a serious expression, as if to override Corteo’s words. Corteo’s breath caught at that piercing gaze.’
‘Avilio smiled coldly, as if he had resolved something. At that smile he had never seen before, Corteo lost the ability to refuse.’
‘Corteo hadn’t forgotten the day Angelo had disappeared. It had been sad, and frustrating. But Corteo understood keenly that he didn’t have the strength to protect Angelo. If Angelo had stayed in this house, he would eventually have been discovered and killed. Corteo and his mother would have been disposed of as well. Angelo had been right to vanish without a word, and that was painful. Corteo never wanted to feel that powerless again. This time, he thought, I have to protect him……’
‘Because he and Angelo were brothers who had been left alone……they were family.’
There’s a brief description in the novel of Prohibition and how it had led to the rise of the mafia etc.
‘At Corteo’s entreating look, Avilio raised his shoulder, put his hand behind his back, and drew the trunk with their drink in it closer.’ [This is the same as the anime but I always like reminders of how Avilio does actually respond and try to protect Corteo.]
Corteo is amazed at Avilio’s actions. Avilio is irritated by Fango’s composure. Fango admires Nero’s act of knocking Serpente away by throwing the coffee cup Vanno had ordered.
‘Avilio knew Corteo was smart. So he did as told and threw the alcohol. He could find out the reason later.’ Vanno, meanwhile, is ‘suspicious’ when he tells them to stop playing around.
‘He didn’t know why they were throwing alcohol bottles, but it was more fun than fighting someone spineless. For Fango, this fight was fun. But he recognized his opponent had guts.’
They leave to take Tigre to the Family doctor.
When Avilio reasons out Corteo’s actions, ‘Corteo beamed reflexively. He was glad Avilio had remembered the thoughtless thing he’d said seven years earlier.’
When Marte (actually Nero) compliments their drink, ‘Avilio stayed silent, as if that were obvious, and looked out the window’.
He thinks that a lot of unfamiliar buildings have popped up in the seven years he was away, leading into the conversation about the playhouse. Vanno doesn’t think it suits the town; Nero looks like he wants to refute that. Neither Corteo nor Avilio know or care about the reason.
‘Avilio lived each day in despair, replaying the day his mother and father had been killed over and over.’
The novel goes into more depth about how the deaths of the family were attributed to a fire of unknown origin, and how Avilio hadn’t been able to bring back a single thing from his burning house. ‘On top of letting them know he was alive, it was dangerous to get close. However, one of the memories of his family, which should have all come to nothing, had now returned to his hand. A picture of his younger brother……’
‘Names, and a picture. At the moment, those were more precious to Avilio than anything else. A picture of the brother he had failed to protect, and the names of those he should kill.’
When Marte says that Nero was present, Avilio grows tense. At the reveal, ‘Avilio’s breath caught, and he fought to keep the rising emotions from showing. He’d end up smiling. Just as he had when he had read that letter.’