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The City of Falling Angels

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3.53  ·  Rating details ·  13,093 Ratings  ·  1,610 Reviews
Venice, city of masks, city of mystery. After the success of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, author John Berendt searched for another city, another subject. He chose the island city of Venice; in his words, "uniquely beautiful isolated geographically and emotionally inward-looking .steeped in tradition." When he arrived in 1996, the city was almost smoldering in c ...more
Audio, 0 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Books on Tape, Incorporated
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El
Written by the same man who wrote Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, this book takes the reader to Venice shortly after the well-renowned Fenice Theatre burned down. Berendt offers a multiple of theories surrounding the fire, from Mafia participation to a neglectful renovation crew.

There are few cohesive lines through this book. There is the mystery surrounding the fire of the Fenice, and there are gossipy stories involving many of the locals (most of whom are actually expatriates and not
...more
Natalie
Sep 10, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I started this book a few months ago, loved it, continued reading it, continued loving it, then put it down for a few months before ever finishing it. Hmm. The problem with the book is, although it paints a vivid picture of Venice, it doesn’t grab the reader like Berendt’s previous book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Something about a burnt-down opera house just doesn’t excite the same tension and thrills that good old fashioned homicide does. As travel writing, City of Falling Angels ...more
Tisha
John Berendt wonderfully digs beneath the surface of Venice in The City of Falling Angels.. He provides much history of not only the art and buildings of Venice, but also of many Venetian families. He manages to do this all in such a casual way that one forgets it's non-fiction. I'm only sorry, I didn't read this prior to visiting Venice.

One of my favorite lines in the book, describing Venice:

“On one occasion I set about testing this notion by concocting a game called “photo roulette,” the obje
...more
Glenn Sumi
Feb 21, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
In The City Of Falling Angels, John Berendt tries to do for Venice what he did for Savannah, Georgia, in his blockbuster hit Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil. Just as the earlier book began with a murder, this one opens with something almost as compelling: a fire that, in 1996, destroyed the historic La Fenice Opera House and almost destroyed Venice itself.

The cause of the fire is considered arson by some, negligence by others, and there's talk that the Mafia could be connected. But the b
...more
Madeline
In 1996, a fire broke out somewhere inside the empty Fenice opera house in Venice. The opera house was being restored, and was supposed to reopen within a month. When the fire broke out, a million things went swiftly and horribly wrong: the interior of the opera house was littered with open paint cans, chemicals, and cloths, making accidental fire an inevitability, and the fire alarm was disabled. The canal next to the Fenice had been drained recently, and because of this the fire boats weren't ...more
R.J.
Jul 15, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommend
An American walks around Venice trying to explain its peculiarities. He has access very few other Americans would be granted--Unfortunately who comes out looking odd here, in my opinion, is the other Americans expatriates who call the place home. The Ezra Pound and Save Venice incidents largely involve dubious Americans with huge egos that need stroking. The absurdities are worth reading about particularly if you are aware of NYC socialites whose names are within the book.

I enjoyed the book but
...more
Lyn
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is by the same author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story.

After he left Savannah Berendt went and lived in Venice, Italy for a decade. This is very similar to his earlier novel, he lives in and gets to know a coastal city following a noteworthy crime, this time instead of a murder, he follows the investigation of the burning of a historical opera house.

Also like the Savannah book, he sheds a revealing light on the decadence, selfishness and occasional silliness of
...more
Denise
Apr 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This book is actually one I like to read again and again. John Berendt is a former magazine writer and his first book "Midnight In The Garden of Good And Evil" was a fascinating peek at Savannah society as well as a peek inside the judicial system - following trials of Jim Williams for murder - tried multiple times for the same murder and acquitted each time.

"The City of Falling Angels" turns it attention to the ancient Italian city of Venice, and the tragic fire that destroyed the famous opera
...more
Leslie
Aug 07, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Italy fans
Shelves: audiobooks, italy
I was so glad when this book was over. It was quite a chore to listen to on audio, but I think it would have been the same for print. The author moves to Venice and then infiltrates the locals' worlds. We learn a lot about the burning of the Fenice opera house, Ezra Pound's estate, and everyday life in Venice. I enjoyed learning that everyone walks in Venice--there are no cars. However, I felt that the author went into way more detail about the Fenice fire than I needed to know. It was just hard ...more
LJ
THE CITY OF FALLING ANGELS (Non-Fiction-Venice, Italy-Cont) – VG+
Berendt, John – Standalone
The Penguin Press, 2005, US Hardcover – ISBN: 1594200580

First Sentence: “Everyone in Venice is acting,” Count Girolamo Marcello told me.

In January 1996, La Fenice (the Phoenix) was destroyed by fire. Was it an accident, or was it arson? Berendt’s book is a non-fiction look at more than the investigation, but a true study of the history, culture and people of Venice.

I loved this book. No, it’s not on the sa
...more
Suzanne
I love Berendt's style of writing and this is very well done. Like his previous nonfictional work, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" the author takes an event, (this time the fire at the Fenice, the Venice Opera House in 1996) investigates it and creates a story he, as the author, and we the reader, all become intrigued by. As always there is a memorable cast of characters. Like Savannah in his previous work, Venice takes on its own identity and that is critical to the plot. The artists, ...more
Andie
Jul 15, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Need to reread this one again. I picked up this book and bought it mainly because of my first memory of Venice. It was October of 1997 during my honeymoon and my husband and I had just arrived and were trying to find our Venetian hotel. We were wandering aimlessly through the small passageways and streets of Venice up and over canals; we were hopelessy lost, and we stumbled upon the ruins of La Fenice. The famed opera house had burned in January, 1996 but there had been no change to the site sin ...more
Hilda
Jan 26, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hilda by: Evie Lopez-Brignoni
I didn't finish the book, but from what I read (about 3/4ths) I didn't like it, except for the Ezra Pound section - although I didn't really see the connection with the Fenice theater burning.

The book reminded me of a never-ending Dominick Dunne piece for "Vanity Fair" with its continuous name-dropping and irrelevant gossip - name dropping is only fun when you know who the people are! Alas, I'm not up on Venice society.

However, the writing itself - the use of language - as expected was wonderf
...more
Ursula
Nov 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italy, venice, nonfiction
I wish John Berendt had written a different book about Venice. One that was about the real inhabitants and daily lives of Venetians. It's one of those places where the myth and exclamations and romanticism of tourists overshadow the fact that for some people, it's just home. There are pluses (the last train to the mainland leaves at 9 pm, and it's expensive to stay at a hotel in the city, so the majority of the tourists clear out for the night) and minuses (oh, those tourists and their obsession ...more
Wendell
Nov 29, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
*Midnight* was such an entertaining, intriguing book that it would only be natural to go looking for more from Berendt. Sadly, this book isn’t it.

Though Berendt tries to give *Falling Angels* a convincing through-line (and you’d think it would have one – the built-in whodunit of the burning of the Fenice Theatre), the thing simply never gels.

In part, it’s not Berendt’s fault; it’s the fault of “reality.” In typical Italian fashion, there’s no clear good guy or bad guy; the guy convicted for a
...more
Meredith Holley
Jul 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Berendt is a very patient writer, which to me is neither a compliment or an insult. I listened to this on audio because I think Holter Graham is an excellent reader, and I think I liked the book, too. Large sections of it only loosely tied into the main story of the burning of Teatro La Fenice, Venice's opera house. Often, however these digressions were more interesting to me than the central story. For example, the story of Ezra Pound's papers was very compelling to me, probably because I have ...more
Jill Hutchinson
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-history
The author, as he did in his smash best-seller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, begins with a major event and then builds a multi-layered story of the city and people involved. In this case it is Venice, Italy and the destruction by fire of the historic Fenice Opera House. The Fenice was a beloved landmark and its destruction was heartbreaking for the Venetians. Was it arson or was it an accident caused by careless workmen?

The author moved to Venice three days after the fire to write a b
...more
Susan (the other Susan)
Really wanted there to be a lurid murder like in Berendt's Midnight, but I guess there are limits to what a literary non-fiction author can do for the sake of his craft. Enjoyed it, though, and oh how it made me want to be a mysterious American expat occupying a palazzo... Audiobook note: Well done. Thank you, Holter Graham, for not doing Italian accents! I SO appreciate a voice talent who knows he's narrating a book, not acting out a radio play.
Jess
Feb 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-books
Berendt's previous book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was an international bestseller and I loved it to pieces. That, and not the fact that I'm a second generation Italian American, is why I decided to read this book. And I regret that decision.

The City of Falling Angels uses the exact same formula as Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Berendt gives us a biography of a city told through the lives of some of its most colorful citizens, all set against the backdrop of a crime--a
...more
Erin Reilly-Sanders
While technically a piece of non-fiction, the narrative structure of this book makes it seem more an interwoven collection of short vignettes. True to life though, they often have somewhat incomplete endings, although the author has worked them together in a way to give the satisfaction of an overall complete story that tells the real story of the Venice under the glitter and glamour of the tourist culture. While the picture is still presented by an interloper into Venetian culture, his view see ...more
Teechbiz
I loved his book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I think I was expecting the same. It was an interesting story but it wasn't as good as Midnight. I LOVED Midnight
Kim
Aug 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you liked "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," then you must read this. It is every bit as good! I loved it! I am thinking of changing my rating to five stars....
Sketchbook
Apr 01, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Too many "stories" swirling madly around the canals; the prosecco writing is flat.
Ben
May 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's always strange when I read something and can't decide if it's fiction or non-fiction. Twice, I had to jump back to the dust jacket to confirm that Berendt's take on Venice was truth, in as much as it could be. The interwoven tales of intrigue reveal sympathetic characters, lies and mysteries, and dozens of strange asides and questionable happenstances that deliver an intimate look at a mysterious city defined more by its people (and those who believe they're its people) than by the history ...more
Book Concierge
3.5***

Berendt is perhaps best known for his nonfiction exploration of the intricacies behind an infamous crime in Savannah GA - Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - which spent an unprecedented (and still unbroken) record 216 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List.

On the heels of that success he arrived in Venice for a holiday – just a few days after fire engulfed and destroyed the famous Fenice Opera House, where five of Verdi’s operas had their premier. The conspiracy theories and
...more
Ken Dowell
The first problem I had with this book is that it says right on the cover "by the author of 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.'" So I expected it to be brilliant. It's not. But it is still pretty interesting.

The narrative is framed by the burning of the Fenice Opera House in 1996. Along the way we meet a wide variety of Venetians but most reflect the author's taste, which skews toward the aristocratic. We meet a descendent of doges, an esteemed multi-generation family of glassblowers and
...more
emma
Jan 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a real love-hate relationship with this book. A lot of reviews complain that there's no real theme to the book, that it's just a collection of different stories all lumped together, and it is, to a degree, but I liked that about it. It's very well written, evocative, captures the sense of Venice and really transported me there. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and perhaps it should be a 5 star for that alone, but I've knocked one off because from the very first chapter, when the author went to gre ...more
Erika
Feb 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Its over!!! This book was slow going. I was hoping for an eye-opening view of Venice, but I didn’t think this book came anywhere near the intriguing descriptive language of Berendt’s first book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Just a disclaimer: I read that one when I was about 14, so perhaps my tastes have just changed. I found many parts of this book boring including the story line (was there an ending?), the character development (how many characters? 56?), and the bland portrait of ...more
Brandon O'Neill
John Berendt seems to be the master of the "go to an interesting place and meet a bunch of quirky characters" genre. This dealt with the lives of the super-rich, international jet setting bunch, for the most part, which I started to get annoyed with. So your organization has more royalty than that organization. Who cares? Solve some real problems in the world. That said, I did learn some about a place I'd like to visit one day - Venice.
Becki Cusimano
Apr 19, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I loved "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" but didn't like this one at all. I had a hard time keeping up with all the characters and the stories. I realize they were real people and real stories, but I thought it was kind of boring.
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Goodreads Librari...: Please update/edit synopsis of this copy 3 21 Jan 04, 2014 07:34PM  
Sebastian 1 9 Sep 27, 2013 07:06PM  
  • Venice: Pure City
  • Midnight in Sicily
  • Venice
  • No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice
  • Venice Observed
  • The Murder of Helen Jewett: The Life and Death of a Prostitute in Nineteenth-Century New York
  • Italian Hours
  • City of Fortune: How Venice Won and Lost a Naval Empire
  • A Thousand Days in Venice
  • The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder
  • The Italian Renaissance
  • The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece
  • Beyond the White House: Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope
  • Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter's
  • The Italians: A Full-Length Portrait Featuring Their Manners and Morals
  • Paradise of Cities: Venice in the Nineteenth Century
  • Death at the Priory: Love, Sex, and Murder in Victorian England
  • The Monster of Florence
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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. He 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 Sav
...more
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“Loneliness is not being alone, It's loving others to no avail.” 33 likes
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