Skip to main content

Review: The City of Falling Angels, by John Berendt

"Anyone who loves Venice, is a true Venetian... even a tourist, but only if the tourist stays long enough to appreciate the city."
So says Mario Stefani, one of the myriad of characters that populate John Berendt's latest book. If he is correct, then, John Berendt must be a true Venetian. Berednt spent years in "La Serenissima," investigating the occurence of the fire that burned the Fenice theatre on January 29, 1996. His investigation takes him to a variety of places, exploring Venetian culture and history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The book meanders; often one wonders, "what does Henry James have to do with the burning of the Fenice? But the characters are intriguing. John Berendt has a gift for observing and describing people, and he does this to perfection in The City of Falling Angels. There are the two ex-presidents of the Save Venice Foundation, dedicated to the saving of Venice as well as a petty quarrel over the running of the foundation; a glassblower whose family has been in the business for centuries; the so-called Rat Man, who has invented a fool-proof recipe for killing rats; the First Family of American ex-patriots, the Cabots, who have been living in the same palazzo since the 1880s; electricians; politicians; mafiosi; lawyers; and many more.

John Berendt interviewed scores of people, getting the story from several different viewpoints. Its difficult to realize, sometimes, that this is a work of nonfiction. All these people are (or were) real; Berendt proves that sometimes real people are more interesting than those who are created in the imagination.

Comments

Terri B. said…
I've got this one in my tower of books to read. I read his other book "Midnight in the Garden..." and thought the same thing ... I had to keep reminding myself that it was not fiction!

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…