Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Review: Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil

Generally it is a good idea to read up on the town you are about to live in for University as you will be spending the next four years there. As I set off for a long flight to Savannah in the US, my mum gave me a copy of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It is not your typical city guide, it is by far the most fascinating non-fiction novel that combines great crime with travel.

"John Berendt's enthralling new book is an exotic cocktail: two hearty measures of travel-book whimsy mixed with a slug of real-life murder, a dollop of old world affluence and a sprinkling of off-centre sex... It's not hard to see why this has sent coachloads of tourists heading for the swampy Georgia coast."
- Robert Winder, Independent

"Berendt - and the reader - are in travel-writer heaven... This is a book which leaves you amused, spooked and introduced to a new piece of America."
- Mark Lawson, Independent on Sunday

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is based on real events from the 1980's in Savannah and is one of the most popular non-fiction releases of all time. It is written by John Berendt and became such a hit that it led to a movie being produced by Clint Eastwood starring Kevin Spacey and John Cucask as the main characters Jim Williams and John Kelso.

The book itseld is based on true stories, primarily focusing on the murder of a local male prostitute named Danny Hansford, by millionaire and well respected antiques dealer Jim Williams. It is told from the point of John Kelso, a New York Journalist who is hired to write a story on Jim Williams annual Christmas party in Savannah. It is extremely unpredictable and entertaining.

While the novel focuses on a murder that occurs, it also introduces readers to life in Savannah and notable residents, past and present; from musician Johnny Mercer to the Lady Chablis; a local drag queen and entertainer. Chablis brings life and light hearted humour to the book and if you visit Savannah today, you can still catch a chance to see Chablis perform.

Background to Savannah:

All of the settings still exist today, however the famous bronze bird girl statue featured on the book cover was relocated to the Telfair Museum in 1997. Like the famous bench in Forrest Gump, the sites became crowded with tourists that they were removed for preservation into one of the many historical museums and galleries in Savannah.

Savannah is a quirky, historical and fascinating town on the coast of Georgia, surrounded by a river, marshes and the ocean. It is built on a unique grid pattern where garden squares become the major points of interest, surrounded by beautiful and grand historical houses from before the Civil War. In my four years studying in Savannah, I discovered this book is every bit as real as promised. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in crime and travel books, however I think it could provide a fascinating read for everyone. \

And if you want to get more into the story and experience the town for yourself, Savannah is the friendliest city in the world that makes every visitor feel welcome. It is a hub for students at the Savannah College of Art and Design, locals and tourists from all corners of the world. With year long events and celebrations, St Patricks Day is one of the highlights as the city turns green and the cobbletoned River Street is open to everyone to enjoy the day.



























Rating: 5/5
Release Date: June 1995
Publisher: Vintage (Random House)
Author: John Berendt

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