Friday, June 11, 2010

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt~★★★★★

Author: John Berendt
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story
Release Date:
Originally published Jan. 1994; this edition printed June 28th, 1999
Non-fiction/Southern Suspense

Book Jacket: "Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty, early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt's sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.
It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society of ladies of the Married Woman's Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the 'soul of pampered self-absorption'; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight. These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story is a sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city is certain to become a modern classic."

Taryn's Review: I had heard of this book numerous times and heard repeatedly how great it was. I don't know what exactly I thought the book was about, but I had decided it didn't appeal to me for whatever reason. That was a mistake. This book "had me at hello" as Jerry McGuire said. I was enthralled right from the beginning. I loved it and was so eager to find out what happened. The story was set in mysterious, beautiful Savannah. Honestly, I didn't know much about Savannah and maybe that was part of the turn-off for me originally. Paula Deen buttered me up (ha!) to Savannah when she showed clips of the city on her Food Network show and I fell in love with the outdoor scenes on the show.

The story had so many eclectic characters and Berendt was masterful in making them seem so real. I would have thought for sure this was a fiction work had I not known from other readers that it was non-fiction. The elegance and detail in the writing was astounding.

The book does focus on homosexuality quite of bit, so if that sort of thing makes you uncomfortable, I wouldn't recommend this book to you. Other than that, I would say to definitely add this book to your summer reading list if you haven't read it and let the humidity and drama of Savannah sweep you away.

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