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Publisher's Summary

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 best seller 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 percent. 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 Venice 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.
©2005 High Water Incorporated (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"One of the longest-awaited literary encores in recent times....Teems with a diverse cast of aristocrats and lowlifes....Berendt's voice is gentle and tolerant, reveling in human complexities; he has no pretensions of offering anything more than a good story." (The New York Times Book Review)
"In lieu of Savannah, he offers us Venice, another port city full of eccentric citizens and with a long, colorful history." (Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Toni on 07-03-11

Worth the read if you are going to Venice

I am a HUGE fan of Berendt's Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil. So, since I was planning a trip to Venice, I thought this would give me a background of modern Venice as seen from the eyes of an American. It did, and I've very glad I read it but I cannot rate it in the realm of his former work on Midnight. Let's face it, Berendt can get people to tell him things they'd never tell another stranger, that's one of his greatest gifts. But I didn't find I really cared about any of the characters. It may be because there were so many, he couldn't dig very deep on any of them. On the other hand, he refuses to comprise his work by creating fake characters that are a "compilation" of several people and I admire that he doesn't take that route, it would draw some events/interviews into question, as always happens with a compilation. Furthermore, if he had dug any deeper on these characters, the story would have had a much smaller scope, and I don't believe I would have walked away with quite the overview of Venice that I gained from the reading.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By AUDIBLE on 10-08-05

Do Yourself a Favor and Skip This Book!

If listening to 13 hours detailing the whining and infighting of wealthy American ex-pariots in Venice is your idea of a good time, then this is the audio book for you!

Although it begins well, with a vivid description of the Fenice and the fire and a few interesting portraits of actual Italian Venetians (most of whom never reappear in the book), the larger story was more like a painfully long gossip column written for insiders than the glimpse into the mysterious Venetian architecture, art, history, life and culture that we are led to expect by the publisher's summary. The author lurches from gossip laden tattle-tale to tattle-tale with no discernable connecting thread, the Fenice and the rest of Venice fading sadly into the background after the first few scenes.

This book was, sadly, a great disappointment.

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20 of 24 people found this review helpful

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