©2005 High Water Incorporated; (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"One of the longest-awaited literary encores in recent times....Teems with a diverse cast of aristocrats and lowlifes....Berendt's voice is gentle and tolerant, reveling in human complexities; he has no pretensions of offering anything more than a good story." (The New York Times Book Review)
"In lieu of Savannah, he offers us Venice, another port city full of eccentric citizens and with a long, colorful history." (Publishers Weekly)
If listening to 13 hours detailing the whining and infighting of wealthy American ex-pariots in Venice is your idea of a good time, then this is the audio book for you!
Although it begins well, with a vivid description of the Fenice and the fire and a few interesting portraits of actual Italian Venetians (most of whom never reappear in the book), the larger story was more like a painfully long gossip column written for insiders than the glimpse into the mysterious Venetian architecture, art, history, life and culture that we are led to expect by the publisher's summary. The author lurches from gossip laden tattle-tale to tattle-tale with no discernable connecting thread, the Fenice and the rest of Venice fading sadly into the background after the first few scenes.
This book was, sadly, a great disappointment.
Like so many others, I am a huge fan of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil". So I will say that this did not compare to that book in the least. Too many characters to follow without them all really connecting in a significant way. The music in the beginning and end was annoying. A great deal of characters were Italians, but the narrator did not seem to think it necessary to give them accents. All in all, this book had no real plot, just a bunch of stories that happened at around the same time .
Well read and a pretty good story in a magnificent setting. The Opera house fire was the trellis for the vignettes, most of which were twining and atmospheric. More Venice and less Yankee politics would have pleased me, but still fun. I appreciated learning some Italian pronunciation as well.
I am a HUGE fan of Berendt's Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil. So, since I was planning a trip to Venice, I thought this would give me a background of modern Venice as seen from the eyes of an American. It did, and I've very glad I read it but I cannot rate it in the realm of his former work on Midnight. Let's face it, Berendt can get people to tell him things they'd never tell another stranger, that's one of his greatest gifts. But I didn't find I really cared about any of the characters. It may be because there were so many, he couldn't dig very deep on any of them. On the other hand, he refuses to comprise his work by creating fake characters that are a "compilation" of several people and I admire that he doesn't take that route, it would draw some events/interviews into question, as always happens with a compilation. Furthermore, if he had dug any deeper on these characters, the story would have had a much smaller scope, and I don't believe I would have walked away with quite the overview of Venice that I gained from the reading.
This book was written in the same style as his last book, "Midnight in the Garden of Good in Evil". Mr. Berendt describes different people who live in Venice and there are different mysteries described in the book. After listening to this book, I have a better understanding of Venice and its people. It was very interesting and I am surprised that others gave it such a poor review.
Dad of three year old
I listen to two or so books a week. This one is close to the worst it has ever been my displeasure to endure. No plot, just wanderings. Ego run amuck.
Great storyline, exciting plot. Fiction with historical references. Narrator interesting. If you love Venice, Italy and art history, you'll love this book.
People say this isn't as good as Midnight in the Garden, and they're right. But Midnight was so good, that still leaves a lot of room for virtue. I don't know what I would think if I wasn't a Venice-o-phile, but since millions are, that shouldn't count against it either. Suffice to say that Berendt turns his tried-and-true technique for baring the souls of cities to one of the most beguiling cities on the planet and produces a damn fine book. I couldn't wait to get back on the exercise bike.
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