When I read Anne Rice’s novel, The Witching Hour, I wanted to jump on the next flight to New Orleans. Her descriptions of the marvelous city convinced me it was a place I would fall in love with. And I did when I finally visited. John Berendt’s book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, has persuaded me that I must visit Savannah, Georgia. It wasn’t the descriptions so much, but the quirky people he writes about.
This book, which is non-fiction (don’t let that scare you, it reads like a novel), is delightful to read. Most of the book is about the murder of Danny Hansford, a male prostitute, which occurred on May 2, 1981. Jim Williams, a wealthy antiques dealer, is charged with murder. Williams claims it was self-defense. What makes the case even more interesting is that Williams is tried four times for this murder. I can’t imagine having to endure one trial, but four—that’s insane. What is even more crazy are the people involved in the story. I don’t want to insult anyone and when I say crazy I mean that in a good way. At the time of the murder and during the trials, Berendt lived in Savannah. He got to know the people and provides an inside look into the city and trials.
Considering this work is about a murder some of you may be alarmed when I say Berendt had me laughing quite a bit. Not about the murder. That isn’t a laughing matter. But the people in this town are hilarious. Their interactions with each, their antics, and their insecurities had me in stitches. The book was released in 1994 and it spent 216 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. It’s one of the most successful non-fiction releases of all time. If you are looking for something different to read, I highly recommend this book. It’s hard for me to believe that it’s a true story since the residents involved are such characters. Clint Eastwood directed the 1997 movie that was somewhat based on this book. I remembered enjoying the movie. I must say, though, that the book is much better. Now I just need to find the time and money to visit this eccentric city.
This book is not on my 1001 list.
I went online to the library site and ordered this book–see what power you have!
I feel ten feet tall and bullet-proof right now!
you are to me!
And that’s all that matters
Don’t you find that the books are always better? Well, most of the time anyway. I think this looks really interesting – going to look it up now :). She’s our hero isn’t she LouAnn?
What, you haven’t read this one yet? I think you’d love it. Then we need to go there. Are you in LouAnn?
OK, you’ve officially made me obsessed this morning LOL!! I am determined to find this book for free, but I haven’t yet. I will continue my search when I get to work (where I’m supposed to work, but oh well :)).
You’re supposed to work at work. now I know where I went wrong. And I guess the food in the fridge isn’t for everyone to sample.
I just got it for my Kindle!!!! It sounds great and I need another book……right? Savannah is on my list to visit also. My son and his girlfriend went for a long weekend and I have a long list of places to visit and eat thanks to them! I will let you know later how I like the book!
I hope you like the book and if I go, I may hit your son up for some suggestions. I’ve always wanted to go there, but now I must go there!
I have this on my shelf and really should read it! I got it at the BBF a few years ago and vaguely remember having seen part of the film version growing up. Although you’ve now gave me more of an idea of what it’s about than any ideas I had!
I think you would like the quirky people in this town. Let me know what you think of it.
I picked up a copy of this book, but haven’t read it yet. I think the book increased tourism in Savannah substantially for a while. At least, I know people who visited there because of the book.
Oh I can see why. As soon as I finished it I wanted to book a trip. Only if I was rich and had endless time. I’ll get there though! Hope you enjoy the book.
Same here. Anne Rice made me want to go to New Orleans and Berendt made me want to visit Savannah. Sadly I’haven’t been to either of the. I have not even finished the book. I iked it so much, and kept the rest for later…. Now I would have to start all over again.
I’ve got his book on Venice too. We will go to Venice in September (I’ve been there before), maybe I should read it first.
What’s the Venice book? And how wonderful that you are going there this September. I haven’t been yet. I’m sure if I read a book on it, I’ll want to 🙂 Of course, I already want to.
I loved that book and could hardly believe it was fiction! The movie was decent, but not nearly as good as the book.
If he has a book about Venice, I’m buying it now.
I just checked Amazon and the book is called The City of Falling Angels. I’m hoping the library has it.
Thank you–that rings a faint bell.
I didn’t realize he was the author
I meant “non-fiction”!
I do that all the time
This is one of my ALL TIME FAVOURITE books. And I adore the movie. Kevin Spacey is so good and of course his attorney is a wonderful Australian actor…
You were one of the people who convinced me to read this. Do you mean Jack Johnson?
You’ve made me interested with this book. I like books with many characters and better if the characters are well built.
I will keep my eyes open whenever I visit a bookstore.
The people in this work are so quirky and it’s hard to believe that it’s real. I would love to know what you think about it. Good luck!
Maybe the writer spiced it up a bit to make it more interesting 😉
I wondered that while I was reading it, but I’ll have to visit to confirm.
I really enjoyed this book when I read it too!
It’s a fun one!
I am pretty sure I have seen the movie. I am going to order the book today for my reader! OR maybe the library.. 🙂
I hope you enjoy!
You aren’t in spam today TBM! HooRay.. 🙂 I have a couple of other books to read but if we get to the Kinda Big City today I will just get Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
The kinda big city–lol. I’m ending up in other people’s spam but glad it isn’t a problem on your blog. Have fun in the kinda big city.
I read Berendt’s book The City of Falling Angels a few years ago. It was OK, not anything that I was terribly excited about. I have flirted with the idea of reading this book off and on and after reading your recommendation, I’ll have to see if my library has it. Tried 4 times? There’s definitely a story there.
I haven’t read the one about Venice, but I loved this one. And yes, there are four trials. Can you imagine! What makes this book great are the people involved. Crazy fun!
I think I have this book somewhere. Well, I guess I will be on a quest in my home to look for it!
I hope you find it. I loved it!
I actually just listened to it last month, the audio is excellent as well. The movie not good at all compare to the book. His study of characters is really awesome!
I bet the audio is fun!
fantastic!, I loved how he did the voice of Chablis!! by the way, I was told that Chablis in the movie was the real Chablis, the only character who was really who he/she was in reality, cool
Oh I didn’t know that. I should watch the movie again and see.
well the rest of the movie is very poor compare to the book
it would be hard to compare to the book since the writing is captivating.
Savannah is a lovely city. We didn’t take the ghost tour, but did take a daytime tour and received a wealth of information about the area. You should go!
I would love to!
Added on my TO BUY/READ books, its getting longer now.
And I love the Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches but I have not been to New Orleans, I should probably start planning on visiting soon.
New Orleans is fantastic. The people, the food, the town, the vibe–I loved it. Hope you go!
Nice review, TBM! The title is quite interesting and fascinating. It is interesting that this non-fiction book was made into a movie by Clint Eastwood. Four trials – that must have created a sensation in the city.
Oh the city was all over the trials. gossip, gossip, gossip
Such a well written book. Did the film have Kevin Spacey? I can’t remember to be honest. Thought both were good but the book is beautifully penned.
Spacey is in the film. I agree though, the book is wonderful and the movie is okay.
have you read the City of Falling Angels? that’s about Venice and it is a great book as well.
Not yet, but I added it to my list. I would love to go to Venice! Thanks for the suggestion.