In 1999, John Berendt shot into the limelight with Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, a book that won him an unprecedented four-year run on The New York Times bestseller list. Seven years later, Berendt presents readers with his long-awaited second book – The City of the Falling Angels.
What readers enjoyed most about Midnight is Berendt’s ability to capture a sense of place with words. Readers felt as if they had traveled to Savannah, investigated the mystery themselves and knew the eccentric denizens intimately. Berendt’s legion of fan will be delighted to know that his familiar tone graces The City of Falling Angels, and readers will be quickly captured by the charms of Venice.
City opens on the evening of January 29, 1996, the night a devastating fire destroys the historic Fenice opera house. This catastrophic loss is soul-destroying for many Venetians and, fortuitously arriving in Venice three days after the fire, Berendt chronicles the aftermath.
While peripherally an investigation into the causes of the Fenice fire, really this event only provides Berendt the setting around which to wrap a chronicle of the characters he meets in Venice. Once again, Berendt appears to be a magnet for the eccentrics who appear drawn to any notorious city. As Berendt hunts for the key players to help him understand the political dynamics shaping the reconstruction of the Fenice, he uncovers the love/hate relationship many Venetians feel for their city – and the constantly shifting political sands driving any major effort in Venice.
Venice is a city loved by many tourists and in City of the Falling Angels, Berendt explores the efforts many have made to save the history, art and architecture from the ravages of rising water and decay. In a post-9/11 world, many understand the symbolism a building can represent. Places tend to mean much more than just the daily uses citizens make of it. In the Venice of permanent residents, the Fenice is one of the few remaining buildings that is theirs, rather than the tourists’. Rebuilding it means restoring the soul of this magnificent city, and Berendt brilliantly chronicles the political challenges complicating the task.