Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

First sentence:

"'Everyone in Venice is acting,' Count Girolamo Marcello told me."


"Venice--a city of masks and riddles, where narrow streets and passageways form a giant maze that confounds the uninitiated and deepens the sense of mystery. As captivating as it is elusive, the city teeters in precarious balance between endurance and decay. Architectural treasures crumble--foundations shift, ornaments fall--even as efforts to preserve them are under way. In The City of Falling Angels, John Berendt, author of the record-breaking bestseller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, unveils the enigmatic Venice as only he can.

The story opens on the evening of January 29, 1996, when a sensational fire destroys the historic Fenice Opera House. The loss of the Fenice, where five of Verdi's operas premiered, is a catastrophe for Venetians, made worse by the revelation that arson might have been the cause. Arriving three days after the fire, Berendt inquires into the nature of life in this remarkable city while gradually revealing the truth about the fire. In the course of his investigations, he encounters a rich cast of characters: a hard-as-nails prosecutor who blushes when he's angered; the First Family of American expatriates facing the loss of their palace on the Grand Canal after four generations of ownership; a contemporary Venetian surrealist painter known locally as an outrageous prankster and provocateur; a twenty-first-generation master glassblower whose sons are locked in a dynastic war; and numerous others--pigeon trappers, scapegoats, hustlers, sleepwalkers, a believer in Martians, the Plant Man, the Rat Man of Treviso, and Henry James.

Berendt tells a tale full of atmosphere and surprise as the stories build, one after the other, ultimately coming together to portray a world as finely drawn as a still-life painting. The fire and its aftermath serve as a leitmotif that runs through the book, contributing to the ever-mounting suspense and revealing the city of Venice in all its magic, mystery and decadence." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I liked this book about Venice - its history, people and events, especially in the late 20th century.

Date read: 8/29/2011
Book #: 21
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Nonfiction

ISBN-10: 1594200610
ISBN-13: 9781594200618
Publisher: The Penguin Press
Year: 2005
# of pages: 398
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page