BookBrowse Reviews The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The City of Falling Angels

by John Berendt

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt X
The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2005, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2006, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


A tale full of atmosphere and surprise by the author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: Nonfiction Travel

From the book jacket: 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 (pronounced fay-nee-CHAY), 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.

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 the elements of chaos, corruption, and crime and contributing to the ever-mounting suspense of this brilliant book.

Comment: There are countless books written about Venice but, arguably, none written by an author as familiar to readers as John Berendt, whose first book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1994), stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for four years and, thanks in part to the 1997 movie of the same name, achieved a fair degree of awareness outside of the USA as well.

Every author hopes that his/her book will make it on to the bestseller lists, but few, even in their wildest imaginations would dare to consider a four year run for their first book. However, such success is something of a double-edged sword as it sets very high expectations for what follows. Berendt has taken 11 years to publish his second book, and many were watching and waiting to see if it could live up to the success of the first.

On the whole, the verdict is yes, it does: The Washington Post concludes that it's "precise, evocative and witty", Library Journal sums up with one word: "Essential", and Kirkus Reviews gives it a starred review, saying he does "great justice to an exalted city", while also commenting that he makes the occasional wrong turn (such as lingering far too long over the apparent suicide of a local gay artist, for example).

The final word goes to Booklist who sum up their review saying, "This is journalism at its most accomplished; it is creative nonfiction as enveloping and heart embracing as good fiction".

This review was originally published in November 2005, and has been updated for the October 2006 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Little Fires Everywhere
    Little Fires Everywhere
    by Celeste Ng
    Voted 2017 Best Fiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    Small towns, big drama. Acclaimed author ...
  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...
  • Book Jacket: Killers of the Flower Moon
    Killers of the Flower Moon
    by David Grann
    Voted 2017 Best Nonfiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    The long, sorrowful list of injustices done ...
  • Book Jacket: The Dry
    The Dry
    by Jane Harper
    Voted 2017 Best Debut Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    After receiving a letter from his childhood...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

At once a love story, a history lesson and a beautifully written tale of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Story of Arthur Truluv
    by Elizabeth Berg

    An emotionally powerful novel from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Autumn

Autumn by Ali Smith

One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, and a Man Booker Prize Finalist

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.