The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

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Synopsis

Twelve years ago, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil exploded into a monumental success, residing a record-breaking four years on the New York Times bestseller list (longer than any work of fiction or nonfiction had before) and turning John Berendt into a household name. The City of Falling Angels is Berendt's first book since Midnight, and it immediately reminds one what all the fuss was about. Turning to the magic, mystery, and decadence of Venice, Berendt gradually reveals the truth behind a sensational fire that in 1996 destroyed the historic Fenice opera house. Encountering a rich cast of characters, Berendt tells a tale full of atmosphere and surprise as the stories build, one after the other, ultimately coming together to portray a world as finely drawn as a still-life painting.
 

About John Berendt

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The son of two writers, John Berendt grew up in Syracuse, New York. He earned a B.A. in English from Harvard University, where he worked on the staff of The Harvard Lampoon. After graduating in 1961, he moved to New York City to pursue a career in publishing. Berendt has written for David Frost and Dick Cavett, was editor of New York magazine from 1977 to 1979, and wrote a monthly column for Esquire from 1982 to 1994. Berendt first traveled to Savannah in the early 1980s, when he realized that he could fly there for a three-day weekend for the price of "a paillard of veal served on a bed of wilted radicchio" [p. 24] in one of New York's trendier restaurants. Over the ensuing eight years his visits became more frequent and extended, until he was spending more time in Savannah than in New York. Part of the appeal, Berendt says, lay in the city's penchant for morbid gossip: "People in Savannah don't say, 'Before leaving the room, Mrs. Jones put on her coat.' Instead, they say, 'Before leaving the room, Mrs. Jones put on the coat that her third husband gave her before he shot himself in the head." (Entertainment Weekly, 3/11/94, p. 52) Since the publication and unprecedented success of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Berendt has become a Savannah celebrity and was even presented with the key to the city. "I took it down to City Hall one night to see if it would work, but it didn't." (Syracuse Post Standard, 4/5/1994)
 
Published September 26, 2006 by Penguin Books. 444 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Travel, Literature & Fiction, Professional & Technical, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The City of Falling Angels

Kirkus Reviews

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An intriguing tour of mysterious Venice and its most fascinating residents, centered around a 1996 fire that destroyed the city's historic opera house.

Oct 01 2005 | Read Full Review of The City of Falling Angels

The New York Times

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John Berendt found his elusive next subject when a great Venetian opera house was destroyed by fire.

Sep 25 2005 | Read Full Review of The City of Falling Angels

The Guardian

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The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt Sceptre £20, pp388 The first time I went to Venice, I remember simultaneously wiping my eyes and holding my nose.

Oct 09 2005 | Read Full Review of The City of Falling Angels

The Guardian

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The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt 342pp, Sceptre, £20 "Guess what!"

Sep 24 2005 | Read Full Review of The City of Falling Angels

BC Books

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This one was harder to resist at the Philadelphia airport bookstore last week – promising the story of the rebuilding of the Gran Teatro La Fenice after the catastrophic fire of 1996 In fact it is a kaleidoscope (or perhaps just a mish mash) of reportage about a variety of connected and unconnec...

Jan 30 2006 | Read Full Review of The City of Falling Angels

Book Reporter

Early in the year 1996, Venice watched while the Fenice Opera House.

Jul 02 2014 | Read Full Review of The City of Falling Angels

AV Club

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("That was a purely legal maneuver," the son claims.) Elsewhere, Berendt finds Ezra Pound's aged ex-lover involved in a drama eerily reminiscent of Henry James' Venice-set The Aspern Papers, as well as an American-based organization dedicated to saving Venice landmarks, though it can't quite save...

Dec 07 2005 | Read Full Review of The City of Falling Angels

Entertainment Weekly

With The City of Falling Angels,Berendt tries to do for Venice what he did for Savannah in his 1994 blockbuster Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: impart the flavor of the city through quirky characters, crime stories, and gossip.

Sep 28 2005 | Read Full Review of The City of Falling Angels

Reviewing the Evidence

Among them are Daniel Curtis, who owned the palace where Henry James wrote and John Singer Sargent painted, the house where Ezra Pound lived with his mistress, Olga the glassblower, Archimede Seguso, who watched La Fenice burn from his windows and who created a series of pieces memorializing the ...

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Bookmarks Magazine

Karen Heller Oregonian 2 of 5 Stars "The City of Falling Angels falls short, a weakness that originates from the moderately compelling narrative surrounding the fire that Berendt relies on to lend his book cohesion."

Aug 27 2007 | Read Full Review of The City of Falling Angels

Reader Rating for The City of Falling Angels
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