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Publisher Description

It was seven years ago that Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil achieved a record-breaking four-year run on the New York Times bestseller list. John Berendt's inimitable brand of nonfiction brought the dark mystique of Savannah so startlingly to life for millions of people that tourism to Savannah increased by 46%. It is Berendt and only Berendt who can capture Venice--a city of masks, a city of riddles, where the narrow, meandering passageways form a giant maze, confounding all who have not grown up wandering into its depths. Venice, a city steeped in a thousand years of history, art and architecture, teeters in precarious balance between endurance and decay. Its architectural treasures crumble--foundations shift, marble ornaments fall--even as efforts to preserve them are underway.

THE CITY OF FALLING ANGELS opens on the evening of January 29, 1996, when a dramatic fire destroys the historic Fenice opera house. The loss of the Fenice, where five of Verdi's operas premiered, is a catastrophe for Venetians. Arriving in Venice three days after the fire, Berendt becomes a kind of detective--inquiring into the nature of life in this remarkable museum-city-- while gradually revealing the truth about the fire. In the course of his investigations, Berendt introduces us to a rich cast of characters: a prominent Venetian poet whose shocking 'suicide' prompts his skeptical friends to pursue a murder suspect on their own; the First Family of American expatriates who lose possession of the family palace after four generations of ownership; an organization of high-society, party-going Americans who raise money to preserve the art and architecture of Venice, while quarreling in public among themselves, questioning each other's motives and drawing startled Venetians into the fray; a contemporary Venetian surrealist painter and outrageous provocateur; the master glassblower of Venice; and numerous others--stool-pigeons, scapegoats, hustlers, sleepwalkers, believers in Martians, the Plant Man, the Rat Man, and Henry James.

Berendt tells a tale full of atmosphere and surprise as the stories build, one after the other, ultimately coming together to reveal a world as finely drawn as a still-life painting. The fire and its aftermath serve as a leitmotif that runs throughout, adding to the elements of chaos, corruption and crime, and contributing to the ever-mounting suspense of this brilliant audiobook.

Bonus feature includes an exclusive interview with the author!

Travel & Adventure
Holter Graham
hr min
September 27
Random House Audio

Customer Reviews

Memphis Jay ,

John Berendt is like a fine scotch

Mr. Berendt traditionally spends years on each book. It is a practice that pays off in full with his latest offering, The City of Falling Angels. If you enjoyed Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil or the Clint Eastwood-directed adaptation, I strongly urge you to consider this book. This book didn't leave the typewriter for 7 years or more, but reading it now I can expect it to hold up for the next few generations, easily, and might stand in history as a careful dissection of a languid, tidal city (Venice) that might never be as it was. As a four-year resident of New Orleans (a returned evacuee) this book and its surreal portrayal of a city that breathes independently of its country, and at a different pace. The back stories wind like cobblestone alleys, losing the reader quickly in the twists of cultural patterns that are so uniquely Venice. Mr. Berendt again adheres to his strict self-regulation that assures you no characters are composites, personal narration perceived as largely genuine and the tales dropped along the way by Venetians would never have been told with any more truth than we're entitled to. It's wizardry how he can weave factual accounts into a story so stable fine it might easily have been a product of a master novelist. Such an account affords and redoubles the author's strong reputation.

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