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Publisher's Summary

It was seven years ago that Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil achieved a record-breaking four-year run on The New York Times best seller list. John Berendt's inimitable brand of nonfiction brought the dark mystique of Savannah so startlingly to life for millions of people that tourism to Savannah increased by 46 percent. It is Berendt and only Berendt who can capture Venice, a city of masks, a city of riddles, where the narrow, meandering passageways form a giant maze, confounding all who have not grown up wandering into its depths. Venice, a city steeped in a thousand years of history, art, and architecture, teeters in precarious balance between endurance and decay. Its architectural treasures crumble, foundations shift, marble ornaments fall, even as efforts to preserve them are underway. The City of Falling Angels opens on the evening of January 29, 1996, when a dramatic fire destroys the historic Venice opera house. The loss of the Fenice, where five of Verdi's operas premiered, is a catastrophe for Venetians. Arriving in Venice three days after the fire, Berendt becomes a kind of detective, inquiring into the nature of life in this remarkable museum-city-while gradually revealing the truth about the fire.
©2005 High Water Incorporated (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

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  • Overall

Worth the read if you are going to Venice

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • San Francisco, CA, United States
  • 10-08-05

Do Yourself a Favor and Skip This Book!

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.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Pita
  • Miami
  • 08-01-14

Gossip, intrigue, politics in Venice....delicious!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who wants to be entertained as well as to learn a little bit about illustrious expats in Venice. It will certainly suit those who enjoy classy but gossipy magazines such as Vanity Fair. If you love Venice and know her a little bit as I do, this book will be a treat (of the very frivolous kind, of course)

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The story of the destruction of the opera house in Venice (La Fenice) because of human carelessness and the mishandling of the fire were extremely interesting. The way the writer describes how the fire inspired the glassblower and the resulting masterpieces was also interesting,

Have you listened to any of Holter Graham’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This was my first experience with this narrator. He was perfect in this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Richard
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 04-01-07

Great long trip book

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

great listening....

i really enjoyed this book...lots of history blended with present day scenarios...and its all true -
real names, places and events.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


This is the dullest book I have ever encountered on Audible. The narrator's disinterested tone makes it even worse.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

City of Falling Angels

Great storyline, exciting plot. Fiction with historical references. Narrator interesting. If you love Venice, Italy and art history, you'll love this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Carolyn
  • Lakewood , CA, USA
  • 01-03-06

How I should Have Read Reviews

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 .

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A waste of time and money

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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful