Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005
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****The City of Falling Angels

by John Berendt

Reviewed October 31, 2005.
Penguin Press, New York, 2005.  414 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (MCN 945 BER).
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005 (#3, Miscellaneous Nonfiction)

I’d heard of John Berendt, the author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, though I’d never gotten around to reading the book.  When I saw he’d written another book and that this one was about Venice, one of my favorite cities in the world, I had to read it.

The City of Falling Angels is fascinating.  As a focus, John Berendt uses a mysterious fire that destroyed the Fenice opera house.  He shows the many sides of the secret of how and why it started.  But mostly, he uses it as a jumping off place to tell us the stories of the important people of Venice.

He shows us intriguing people like a master glassblower whose sons are fighting over his legacy; a rich designer of rat poison who makes poisons that match what the people of a rat’s country eat; a social-climbing American couple who seem to have designs on the papers of Ezra Pound; a rivalry between two men on the board of Save Venice; and of course all the people suspected of being involved in the burning of the Fenice.

Most of all, this book is an exploration of Venice—what it’s like to live there, what its people are like, and the challenges of living in a historical, but touristy city.  This book is masterfully crafted and makes absorbing reading.  I decided it was time to check out Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil as well.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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