Review: Berendt reads his own nonfiction exploration of the seamy side of Venice with an insider’s hushed tones, chronicling the life and times of the city’s movers and shakers like a naughty child sharing an overheard secret. Following up his similar study of Savannah in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Berendt has cobbled together a series of entertaining tales of the legendary canal city, ranging from the squabbles of Venetian fund-raisers to the fire in the Venice Opera House. Like a cocktail-party raconteur with a particularly juicy story to tell, Berendt twists his listeners’ ears with his book’s seamless string of Venice-themed misbehavior and decadence. Only occasionally overemoting, Berendt mostly maintains the proper tone of high-society gossip delivered succinctly. Berendt’s intimate voice helps to tie together the disparate strands of his sometimes-sprawling book.
From Publishers Weekly – Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
What I liked: It gives an interesting view of Venice that the average Joe would not be able to see. It is written well – good dialogue, flows well.
What I didn’t like: It seemed like a book of gossip. Yes, Bernedt was allowed into places and was talking to people that you or I wouldn’t have access to, I would suppose because of his Good and Evil book fame, but to say that it’s nonfiction seems a bit of a stretch. There is much conjecture here that makes it more story than fact (for example – how does Berendt know how what went on in the glass artist home during the Opera house fire, let alone how the artist felt about it.) It also amazes me that Berendt took, I think it was at least 5 years – I can’t recall since I listened to this book awhile ago – to research and write this book. Maybe the man has a second job, but I doubt it. Hopefully his Good and Evil book gave him the funds to do this – perhaps if he had the movie rights. Overall, it’s not a bad book, but it’s interest is mostly due to the city he writes about.