Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (CBR5 #1)

The novel’s full title is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story and I find that to be a telling detail about John Berendt’s work. This is a story that shows many, but not all, of the facets that make Savannah a unique place. Savannah has been haunting me the past few years. Several family members and friends have made the sojourn to the famous city and all have the same report: “you have to go”. I believe that John Berendt would agree after his 8 years of living on and off in the sequestered city.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil tells the story of the Savannah in the 1980s, focusing on the murder trials of Jim Williams. Jim Williams was one of the social centers of upper crust Savannah, a self-made man dealing antiques and restoring the same. He had purchased Mercer House, and it was in that home that he was accused of murdering his lover.   Williams and the eventual circus that surrounds him are not the sole foci of the novel; Berendt also introduces the reader to a cast of unusual characters ranging from a black drag queen to a former lawyer turned bar owner to a voodoo priestess. Through the various lenses Berendt draws a picture of Savannah life.

And it’s certainly an interesting life that Savannah leads. It’s the center of a preservation campaign perhaps unmatched by another city of similar size, a hotbed of cotillions, golf clubs, and a hard separation between the white community and the black one, and to many the unwilling home of the Savannah College of Art and Design. Can I say that some of that has changed? I can’t attest personally, but in many ways in sounds like the South as I know it.

On a separate note from the book (and even the movie it was eventually turned into) I want to talk for a moment about e-readers. I have an early model Nook – the kind that uses e-ink technology and is not back-lit. Whenever I read a book on it, instead of a paper copy borrowed from the library or purchased in a moment of indiscretion, I read much slower than average. Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon or is it just me?


About Katie

Museum educator, caffiene junkie, book lover, student of history, overall goofball.

5 thoughts on “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (CBR5 #1)

  1. Jen K says:

    This is one of those books I keep feeling like I should read, especially when I lived in Savannah (I was only there for a year, and I didn’t live downtown unfortunately). Maybe one day I’ll finally get around to it. I just remember being bored by the movie.

    • I was also underwhelmed by the movie (which is crazy for a movie starring John Cusack and Kevin Spacey) and parts of the book are also slow, but its something to pick up if there isn’t something else you’re desperate to read.

  2. […] CannonballRead while in a book rut, I saw faintingviolet’s review of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and couldn’t believe I’d never read it. […]

  3. […] in a book rut, I saw faintingviolet’s review of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and couldn’t believe I’d never read it. It’s […]

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