What reader expectations does this cool book cover bring into play?
As evidenced on the cover, the garden referred to in the title is a cemetery. Is the cemetery the main setting or is its beautifully decrepit atmosphere revealing of what goes on in the town around it? Moss drips from the trees and grave plots fade into the distance. Front and center stands the bird girl statue whose lithe figure looks relaxed and inviting. The large shallow bowls resting in the palm of each hand make visitors want to approach. What secrets is she keeping?
The muted color palette works to draw attention to the girl, as does the picture frame effect that boxes the cover image. Not to mention anyone who has ever visited a cemetery notes fairly quickly how the gravestones of the wealthy are often elaborate. Why do the rich feel the need to go to such lengths?
Book Description Via Amazon
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 drag 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 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.
Are you intrigued enough to put it on your reading wish list? I only became aware of the book after a recent visit to Savannah, Georgia and knew I would have to read the book after strolling through Bonaventure Cemetery. I’ve since rented the movie and found it lacking. However, I will soon be reading the book and writing a review.
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