The City of Falling Angels

  • by John Berendt
  • Narrated by Holter Graham
  • 12 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.

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What the Critics Say

"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

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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- Toni

Gossip, intrigue, politics in Venice....delicious!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who wants to be entertained as well as to learn a little bit about illustrious expats in Venice. It will certainly suit those who enjoy classy but gossipy magazines such as Vanity Fair. If you love Venice and know her a little bit as I do, this book will be a treat (of the very frivolous kind, of course)


What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The story of the destruction of the opera house in Venice (La Fenice) because of human carelessness and the mishandling of the fire were extremely interesting. The way the writer describes how the fire inspired the glassblower and the resulting masterpieces was also interesting,


Have you listened to any of Holter Graham’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This was my first experience with this narrator. He was perfect in this book.


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- Pita

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-23-2005
  • Publisher: Random House Audio