The City of Falling Angels

The City of Falling Angels

A Venice Story

Book - 2005
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Penguin Putnam
The author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil returns after more than a decade to give us an intimate look at the "magic, mystery, and decadence" of the city of Venice and its inhabitants

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 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 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 that loses possession of the family palace after four generations of ownership; an organization of high-society, partygoing Americans who raise money to preserve the art and architecture of Venice, while quarreling in public among themselves, questioning one another'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.

Baker & Taylor
Traces the aftermath of the 1996 Venice opera house fire, an event that devastated Venetian society and was investigated by the author, who through interviews with local figures learned about the region's rich cultural history.

& Taylor

Traces the aftermath of the 1996 Venice opera house fire, an event that devastated Venetian society and was investigated by the author, who through interviews with such locals as a suicidal poet, a surrealist painter, and a master glassblower learned about the region's rich cultural history. By the author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. 700,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2005
ISBN: 9781594200588
Branch Call Number: 945.31 BER
945.31 BER
Characteristics: 414 p


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Dec 28, 2015

If you think the people of Savannah are strange; wait until you read about Venice. Enjoyable read, just like his debut.

Jul 14, 2014

I loved reading about Venice through Berendt's eyes and his amazing contacts - I am a big fan of Donna Leon and her Venice though was a bit disturbed to learn that in fact murder is uncommon in Venice - but Leon manages to make all her accounts convincing and her world is enhanced by what Berendt reveals in this beautifully written and quite gripping narrative of his experiences there.

May 25, 2014

Berendt says the timing of this visit to Venice was coincidental--he'd wanted to spend a few weeks there in the off-season getting to know the city, and its residents, without "the crush of other tourists." But he arrives 3 days after the disastrous fire that destroys the Fenice Opera House. This last opera house in the city, a showplace of interest to Venetians who inherit their season tickets, not tourists, sets off a drama that claims Berendt. I'm not an opera buff, and have never been to Venice, but he had me hooked. Somehow he got entree into the highest levels of Venetian society, officaldom, and the investigation. Corruption was everywhere, including the American volunteer groups working on Venetian restoration. Not all mysteries get solved, including why some interesting side topics are included in the book. I was left admiring Donna Leon's Venice mysteries even more, as Berendt's view of the city dovetails with hers. Oh--spoiler, but it took eight years and three contractors before the gala reopening of the Fenice.

austinmurphy Feb 01, 2012

To me, Venetians seem incredibly insular and self-obsessed. Spending an article with people like that would be fine, but a whole book was a bit much. This is no knock on Berendt's writing, just the subject itself.

Jan 09, 2011

Excellent read especially if you love Venice and architecture! By the author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil


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