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The City of Falling Angels Paperback – 26 Sep 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; Airside ed edition (26 Sept. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340840617
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340840610
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 23.2 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,504,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

The story of the Fenice fire and its aftermath is exceptionally interesting, the cast of characters is suitably various and flamboyant, and Berendt's prose is precise, evocative and witty (Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post)

An engaging journey in which the author navigates Venice's shadowy politics, its tangled bureaucracy and its elegant high-society nightlife with a discerning, sanguine touch. Berendt does great justice to an exalted city that has rightly fascinated the likes of Henry James, Robert Browning and many filmmakers throughout the world . . . In Berendt's capable hands, the city has never seemed more colorful, perplexing and alluring. (Kirkus Reviews)

'Berendt has delivered an intriguing mosaic of modern life in Venice, which makes for first-rate travel writing' (Publishers Weekly)

The City of Falling Angels - one of the longest-awaited literary encores in recent times - strikes many of the same notes as "Midnight". It, too, is set in one of history's blessed backwaters, a place of crumbling mansions and rococo intrigue. And it, too, teems with a diverse cast of aristocrats and lowlifes. (Adam Goodheart, New York Times Book Review)

An urbane, beautifully fashioned book with much exotic charm. . . Once again, Mr Berendt makes erudite, inquisitive, nicely sceptical company as he leads the reader through the shadows of what was heretofore better known as a tourist attraction. (Janet Maslin, New York Times)

Book Description

A unique tour behind the exquisite façade of the world's most beautiful historic city

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First Sentence
THE AIR STILL SMELLED OF CHARCOAL when I arrived in Venice three days after the fire. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mike Blacklock on 3 Mar. 2006
Format: Hardcover
A book written possibly from an American point of view emphasising the various and ongoing fascination and connections that Americans continue to have with La Serinissima. Nevertheless John Berendt gets under the skin of Venice and its people to such a degree that you feel that if you passed them in the Calle you would immediately recognise them from Archimede Seguso to the man of a hundred identities and uniforms to match.
Whilst your typical Venetian gets quite emotional quite easily on subjects ranging from pigeons in the city to the increasing maritime traffic through the Lagoon, the author does not let it cloud his view of the situation.For example he provides an insight into the fire at la Fenice from a very different slant, including a view from a near neighbours window of the ongoing tragedy, but one I think that captures the effect of this catastrophe on the city and its inhabitants with a closeness that I have not seen in other accounts of the fire.
If you are travelling to Venice do read this book as it will, I believe, make you appreciate the city and its inhabitants with a different view, but one which I believe will get you much closer to what living in Venice is all about. A very good read, however you get the feeling that Mr. Berendt hasn't finished yet with Venice despite everything still captured by the magic of this city?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Cowan on 29 July 2010
Format: Hardcover
John Berendt's book is a fascinating read for anyone who wants to read about the odd characters from outside the city who have populated it over the last decades. He enjoys showing up hypocrisy, whether it is in connection with the estate of the poet Ezra Pound or those responsible for the fire at the Fenice opera house with which the book opens. Ordinary Venetians scarcely get a word in edgeways. If you have been to Venice and wondered about the forces which have kept it going over the last few years, this is the book for you.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By helen on 9 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
Amazing - this book is not at all what one may think one's getting! Maybe one expects a gentle wander through Venice, with the odd anecdote, and of course plenty of historical knowledge served up in an oh so casual manner. In short, like a little book of journalistic appreciation of a beautiful place. One or two readers may even expect it to be an insider's guide to Venice- to which they can then point and say "Oh really, he doesn't understand Venice at all". But read the book, and you'll be flabbergasted! Much like the town he is writing about, Berendt confuses you, sets wrong trails, surprises you and eventually makes you realize you've gone in a huge circle to where you've started out from, only with so much more knowledge and experience. His account of the fate of the Ezra Pound papers for example, is one of the most astounding "real crime" accounts I've read - and of course Berendt manages to spin a web which craftily links it up to Henry James' "Aspern Papers". This is a simply amazing book which leave one gasping at his cunning and elegant way of exploring the dark side of the mysterious town called Venice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jane B on 8 Mar. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This has the distinction of being the first book I haven't finished in years. I have spent a lot of time in Venice over the past 40 years and can never get enough of the place and its buildings. The atmosphere never fails to captivate me regardless of the time of year. Sadly this book added nothing to my feelings for the city.
At first I was captured by the whole tragedy of the fire at La Fenice and having visited the rebuilt opera house, I was prepared to be engrossed. With a few exceptions I quickly lost interest in the characters, many of whom seemed entranced by the sound of their own voices. When he did talk about real Venetians , there was a chance I would stick with it, but as petty squabble followed petty squabble , I realised I didn't care about these people. And that's the point. A good book about travel and cities will bring the inhabitants to life and make you engage with them. For me, he achieved neither if these things. Ultimately I gave up because I lost interest in what he had to say.
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Format: Paperback
As a fan of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" I probably am in the same class as most readers of both books in being disappointed by this second one. It has many similarities to the first: both are first person accounts of several years spent as the "outsider" observing the strange customs of an unknown foreign tribe, like an an early explorer in the wilds of who-knows-where. He brought that sense of awe and naivete more believably to us in "Midnight" where the people of Savannah, his fellow Americans, did come across as truly an unusual group with customs and ways new and different from the rest of us. Somehow, though Venice is an actual "foreign" city for most of us, it doesn't seem so strange; the author doesn't bring to the table the same sense of excitement, of being in a really new environment. And it shouldn't have been that way! There are certainly a large cast of characters; a possible murder that sort of fizzles out; the fire which destroys the old Fenece Opera house, a tragedy for Venetians and Opera lovers; but somehow I never FELT the loss myself...The only one of his little vignettes of which the book is made that I became emotionally involved in was the story of Ezra Pound, and his long-time partner Olga Rudge, their daughter and her family, and the attempts by a nefarious American woman to fleece Olga, then in her 90's, of not just money but more importantly the rights to the papers, and the memorabilia over 50+ years that she had from the late Pound. It is a sad story that if it took place here and now in the States now would fall under elder abuse laws, but there and then seemed to have been brushed off by the authorities, and even Ms Rudges' adult daughter and grandson seemed not to be overly concerned though they themselves took a financial loss.Read more ›
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