Written By: John Berendt

Narrated By: Holter Graham

Date: September 2005

Duration: 13 hours 0 minutes


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 bestseller 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%. 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 Fenice 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. In the course of his investigations, Berendt introduces us to a rich cast of characters: a prominent Venetian poet whose shocking 'suicide' prompts his skeptical friends to pursue a murder suspect on their own; the First Family of American expatriates who lose possession of the family palace after four generations of ownership; an organization of high-society, party-going Americans who raise money to preserve the art and architecture of Venice, while quarreling in public among themselves, questioning each other's motives and drawing startled Venetians into the fray; a contemporary Venetian surrealist painter and outrageous provocateur; the master glassblower of Venice; and numerous others--stool-pigeons, scapegoats, hustlers, sleepwalkers, believers in Martians, the Plant Man, the Rat Man, and Henry James.

Berendt tells a tale full of atmosphere and surprise as the stories build, one after the other, ultimately coming together to reveal a world as finely drawn as a still-life painting. The fire and its aftermath serve as a leitmotif that runs throughout, adding to the elements of chaos, corruption and crime, and contributing to the ever-mounting suspense of this brilliant audiobook.

Bonus feature includes an exclusive interview with the author!


  • Anonymous

    I kept listening because I thought eventually there would be a story. There seemed to be some small stories that never came together - and those weren't interesting. It was tedious. The facts about Venise were interesting, but I'm sure there's a more interesting travel book out there - or even an history book. Ugh

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Anonymous

    I purchased the book when it was first printed and I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to hear the audio version. I highly recommend this audiobook to anyone who loves Venice. (I have made ten visits to this magical city.) It will also appeal somewhat to those who enjoyed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I wonder if other readers will enjoy it as much... My only definite criticism is that toward the end of the book he spends too much time discussing the in-fighting within a charitable group and it becomes a little boring.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Anonymous

    Enjoyed this book. Very descriptive and visual with good character development

  • Anonymous

    This was a wonderful book about the unique people of and visual tapestry of one of the most enchanting places in the world, Venice. Venice is its own character, much like Savanah was in this author's book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. This book would make a good movie too!

  • franimaldoc

    This was a delightful tale of the people of Venice and their reactions to a disastrous fire in a priceless and irreplaceable theater. While it is a story about an event, the true adventure is in meeting the inhabitants of this unique and relatively isolated community. All small communities have characters, but the steeping of Venice in its rich and artistic history seems to have steeped its characters to a deep resonance, at the same time that the very same history seems to have trapped those characters in a dance that doesn't seem to have changed much over the centuries. At the same time that one is delighted to have met them, one is left with the melancholy feeling that one is reading the closing chapter in a veritable encyclopedia of charming and harmless eccentricity as well as the saga of the city's art.

  • Altheabay

    This book is not like a regular work of fiction. It is more like a travel diary. I liked it very much. At first I was put off by it and had to make myself continue with the listening. I also went back to some reviews of the book to relook at what professional reviewers had to say about the process the book takes to tell the story. After that I had no problem with it and loved the people and the stories attached to them. I often wondered at how the author got away with saying some of these things about real people, but decided the lawyers had probably taken care of him on that score. I love Venice, and this book made me love it even more. Don't go here to look for fast action, this is a easy, smooth read of people's life flowing in and out, just like all our lives do. A

  • Sara Lott

    Terrible--rambled on and on. Sent it back before I was finished. Boring, boring, boring. Way too many characters to follow. What a disappointment after "Midnight!"

  • Anonymous

    Too slow starting. Kept trying to stay with it. Finally gave up.

  • Sara Lott

    I absolutely did not enjoy this book. In fact, I didn't finish listening to it past the 5th CD. I kept waiting for it to get better; unfortunately it never did. Too many plot lines; very rambling. I was very disappointed; as a fan of "Midnight" I was expecting much more.

  • Anonymous

    This book was absolutely fabulous. I was hanging on every word and so engrossed with Venice that I found it difficult to stop the disc at any given point. Berendt is a master storyteller who truly lives with his characters, giving you the feeling you are there with him and them. I highly recommend this novel.

  • Laurel Ralston

    I almost *never* put down a book or stop listening to a recorded book, but I couldn't listen beyond the 3rd or 4th disc on this (I can't even remember which disc because my mind was so numbed by listening to it). It started out interestingly enough, but too many details and plot lines get tangled up and, perhaps it's my simple mind, I found myself not listening but thinking about other things. The reading was not all that exciting either. And I've listened to other stories that were just as actionless, but kept my interest. This one didn't.

  • Tami Whalen

    Most enjoyable - I was never really attracted to Venice but I desperately want to see it & experience it now.

  • Anonymous

    I thought this was going to be another real-life whodunit, like "Midnight", so I listened to the first set of disks waiting for the mystery to unfold. It never quite does, even in the middle set, but by the time I got to disk 5, I was hooked anyway. It takes awhile to get the characters straight (all those mellifluous Italian names run together), but in the end, it almost doesn't matter -- each vignette is a self-contained story, and by the time you realize it's over, Berendt is on to the next one. It's like floating down the Grand Canal and stopping to peep in the windows; you catch a snapshot of the people and the way they live, all centering on the theme of the fire at the opera house (the name of which I don't dare try to spell just from hearing it!). I thought my next European vacation would be Paris, but now... Ciao, Venezia!

  • Anonymous

    I rented this book because I adore Venice; but while it was entertaining, it was also disjointed with too many story lines never connected. Overall, the book was enjoyable, but hard to keep the "players" straight. I think the structure and interest level would have been much better, if the book had been divided according to stories without the jumping from one to another. Too, being fascinated with Murano, I enjoyed the view of a glass artesian family.

City of Falling Angels

by John Berendt

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City of Falling Angels, John Berendt
City of Falling Angels, John Berendt
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