Reviews

Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

More than ten years after the publication of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Berendt returns with another nonfiction thriller, this one set in Venice. The victim here is the Fenice, Venice's spectacular opera house, which burned under mysterious circumstances three days before Berendt's arrival in early 1996. As the author settles in for an extended stay, the Venetians attempt to determine the cause of the fire and rebuild the opera house-a process that reveals much about the life of the city and its citizens. Berendt meets Venetians of all classes and occupations, as well as tourists and expatriates, and weaves their stories into his chronicle of the fire investigation and reconstruction process. The cast of distinctive characters includes a judge, a glassblower, artists and artisans, poets, scholars, contractors, socialites, and members of the aristocracy. Even the buildings of Venice are characters in this real-life drama; thankfully, appendixes listing main characters, places, and organizations help readers to keep track of everything. What emerges is an intimate portrait of a city that has survived floods, government corruption, decay, rising water levels, invasions, and attempts by international organizations to "save" it-all while remaining a bastion of art and a place of unique beauty. Essential. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/05.]-Rita Simmons, Sterling Heights P.L., MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

The author's phenomenally best-selling Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil 0 (1994), which, for a record-breaking four years, remained on the New York Times 0 best-seller list, drew tourists in droves to the lovely city of Savannah, Georgia. Will his thoroughly engaging new book do the same for the tourist trade to Venice, Italy? In 1996, Berendt planned an extended, off-season stay in Venice. Just three days prior to his arrival, Venice's world-famous opera house burned to the ground. He uses the official investigation into the disaster and the construction of a new opera house as a paradigm of civic and social life in this enigmatic city whose importance to the world -(other than as a tourist destination) has long vanished, and he uses the personal stories of the wide variety of individuals with whom he became acquainted during the course of his stay not only to enrich but also to personalize his account. This is journalism at its most accomplished; it is creative nonfiction as enveloping and heart embracing as good fiction. --Brad Hooper Copyright 2005 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

It's taken Berendt 10 years follow up his long-running bestseller, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. In lieu of Savannah, he offers us Venice, another port city full of eccentric citizens and with a long, colorful history. Like the first book, this one has a trial at the its center: Berendt moves to Venice in 1997, just three days after the city's famed Fenice opera house burns down during a restoration. The Venetian chattering classes, among whom Berendt finds a home, want to know whether it was an accident or arson. Initially, Berendt investigates, but is soon distracted by the city's charming denizens. Early on, he's warned, "Everyone in Venice is acting," which sets the stage for fascinating portraits: a master glassblower creating an homage to the fire in vases, an outspoken surrealist painter, a tenacious prosecutor and others. As the infamous Italian bureaucracy drags out the investigation, Berendt spends more time schmoozing with the expatriate community in long discussions about its role in preserving local art, culture and architecture. By the time the Fenice is rebuilt and reopens, Berendt has delivered an intriguing mosaic of modern life in Venice, which makes for first-rate travel writing, albeit one that lacks a compelling core story to keep one reading into the night. Agent, Suzanne Gluck. (On sale Sept. 27) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The man who made Savannah really famous visits fabled Venice, and though his starting point is the 1996 fire that consumed the Fenice opera house, his narrative concerns the crazed painters, partying Americans, glassblowers, hustlers, and others who ply the city's streets-er, canals. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.