Very different - a nonfiction work that reads like a novel, a travel guide, and a first-person account (The author is a character in the book and references his writing of the book within the story)
The book revolves around Savannah, Georgia and a murder trial that went on in the 1980s. The author spends a lot of time on the unique social dynamics of Savannah and the eccentric personalities that made up the city.
Good for it's unique approach and character portrayals. Fascinating if you are from or interested in Savannah. An average story (made more interesting by the fact that its true).
Don't let the awful movie ruin this one for you - this is one of the best books I have read, and the movie was one of the worst movies I've seen. I am STILL holding a grudge against Spacey, Eastwood, and everyone else who had anything to do with that heinous movie. Enjoy the book!!
While this stunning work of non-fiction is undoubtedly well-written and interesting, after reading it, you almost feel physically and morally dirty after having consorted with the cast of characters in this book. It's a study in the underbelly of humanity, how Southerners appear polite, virtuous, and cleansed, but can say the nastiest things behind your back, hide the dirtiest secrets, and struggle with the dichotomy between how they want to appear to society and who they really are.
Claire S. reviewed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on
Helpful Score: 1
I enjoyed this book. I had put off reading it because of what I had heard about the movie and the cover and title seemed to convey a very dark sinister sort of story. However, the title actually comes from a comical chapter and the cover really is misleading. There is a murder mystery but the book is mainly about Savannah and the colorful characters who live there. Having lived in Savannah for a year I found it very authentic.
I have read this book a couple of times and each time I find it funny and a delightful read. I know it is non-fiction but it reads like a fiction book. Hard to believe that the characters in the book are real and not made up by the author but, they are all to real. The story is told in a delightful manner and each character comes to life. After having read it this time I googled the characters. To my amazement they were exactly as the book described. The language was a little rough in places but without it I don't think the story would have been as believable. A fast past enjoyable read.
This is a great book. Interesting from page 1, written in the first person by the author, who experienced everything he wrote about. At times you would think you are in New Orleans (some voodoo rituals). About half way through the book, the title is explained when you take a trip to a cemetery.
Loved it; very interesting especially after having been to Savannah and being able to visualize the places talked about in the book. Book is different from the movie. Don't get me wrong I loved the movie too, but the book has more background not only about the murder but just the area and people in general. Don't know how much is fictionalize but it's still fun to read. Of course it helps to be a southern and proud of it.
I found Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil to be a very entertaining book. Some parts of it were a little disturbing, but all in all a very good book. It reinforced my desire to visit Savannah soon.
Held my attention. Since this is a work of nonfiction, pictures of the houses and whatnot would have been preferred over endless descriptions. There is some obvious filler that I suppose is there to draw out suspense, but it just annoyed me and I skimmed a lot of pages as I moved toward the end.
Susan G. reviewed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on
I enjoyed the characters in this book more than anything. The author also did a good job of "teaching" me about some of the history & culture of the area without making it seem like a history book. Great story.
The book was okay, it's more of a gossip column than a murder story. To me it seemed forced, a New York writer comes to Savannah, looking for a story to write. There is a lot of filler, with only so so coverage of the killing. Not many likable characters in this book.
A must read for anyone who has loved their visit to the historic city of Savannah, GA just as i did. Though a non-fiction book, it reads like many a bestselling murder mystery. NY author John Berendt falls in love with the city so becomes a part-time resident in order to learn the inner workings of Savannah society. He discovers some unique characters, moneyed families both new and old, and becomes the confidante of the accused in the May 1981 murder of a young male hustler. Berendt stays in town over 8 years as the murder trial unfolds and the accused runs his antique business from the county jail. It's hard to believe the one of a kind personalities he encounters are all real people!
Susan B. reviewed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on
I'm a little late to the game, having not read this book until recently, but I loved it. I especially enjoyed the fact that it read like a novel, but was based in fact. If you're from the south, have ever been to the south, or just like a good, well-written story, do yourself a favor and check this book out. Well worth your time.
I did not really enjoy this book, but it did keep me turning the pages - like a gripping whodunnit. Surprisingly, it is a work of nonfiction, but it reads like a fictional narrative. I did think it was a bit on the "mass market" side. It tackles voodoo, eccentric local inhabitants, and if it's true, it certainly captures a wild flavor of Savannah. Kept me reading 'till dawn, but left me a little bland.
I loved this book! I've read this and the other book by Berendt and I have been impressed both times. If you love the South or a good mystery check this one out.. and bonus.. it's nonfiction!! It's creepy and fun and shocking... never dull.
Read for a book club but was not impressed. To me it was choppy and the homosexual undertones got old quick. Had it's interesting moments but could have been better. Very loosely based on true characters.
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 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 every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the "soul of pampered self-absorption"; the uproariously funny black drad queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; 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 everone knows everyone else.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story is a sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly concieved and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city is certain to become a modern classic.