Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Book 1: The City of Falling Angels

When I saw this book on the shelves at my local bookshop, I was ecstatic. I submitted my hold form at the library (I try not to purchase what I can read there) and waited approximately three weeks. Why was I so looking forward to reading this, you ask? John Berendt's previous book, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", is one of my favorites, one I always highly recommend. I looked forward to meeting more eccentric and well-developed characters, finding myself drawn in to another mystical world and learning interesting facts about a new place. Let me point out that I love travel books, as there are many places I won't get to go. That whole marry rich and travel the world the rest of my life scheme didn't really work out.

Okay, enough nonsense and back to the book. I'll admit, I was a little disappointed. John Berendt travels to Venice and opens with his desire to write about the real Venice, about Venetians and their world, and invites the reader to walk along the bridges and canals with him. Strange then that he wrote mostly about expatriate families, American philanthropists and the odd Roman. While I enjoy his description of Venice's spectacular (if somewhat dilapidated) architecture I found his Venetians lacking. Mostly they were rich, annoying and self-important people completely disconnected from the true heart of the city. Very few of his chapters focused on regular people, the local italians who make their living in cafes or the open air markets. There is a small plot throughout the book; it is not simply character sketches or essays. He arrives in Venice just before the Fenice, one of the opera houses, burns to the ground. Throughout the book we revisit the investigation and trial of two electricians who were working on the Fenice's restoration. Perhaps because it took place in Italy, or perhaps because I wasn't really paying attention, but I'm not sure I have any idea what happened with that. It was much less intriguing than the plot of "Midnight...", the arrest and trial of antique dealer Jim Sheridan (for murder!)

Hm, to sum it up, I'll say it was okay. In my own book log I use a star for excellent, a smiley face for good, a squiggle for okay, and dot for I can't believe I read this stupid book. I gave "The City of Falling Angels" a squiggle. It is somewhat informative, especially if you're an Ezra Pound or Henry James fan, who both lived and wrote in Venice. I would, however, highly recommend his first book "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." That one is excellent!

One of the categories on Jeopardy missused the word quote today. I got so mad I refused to answer the questions from that category, even if I did know the answer.
You guys are HILARIOUS! I think this blog-review thing is a fantastic idea and can't wait to read them all. stephanie
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