Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil by John Berendt.
Really? We’re about to talk about a book that came out in ’94? Why is this still relevant?
Well, I’m with you. I watched the movie back in ’97, when this topic was hot.
And that seems like forever ago.
But, this was picked by the ladies in my Book Club to read for the month of February. And come to find out from “AJ Fikry” who owns the local bookstore downtown, it’s still a popular pick for many book clubs today.
Well, it was an inside peak at a Southern city, in the 20th century, that has resisted transformation over the centuries and is reminiscent of the Gone With the Wind era.
In Savannah in 1997 there are still debutante balls, cotillions, extravagant Christmas parties at the homes of the wealthy, mansions inhabited by millionaires, women still addressed as “Lady … “, gentlemen’ clubs (and I am not referring to the seedy ones of today!) that are invitation only, dinners where the man of the house dresses in black tie and the woman of the house wears a ball gown.
The city is contradictory, however. The perfectly preserved veneer of the city does a good job of hiding the changes that have come about since its days of former glory. The debutante balls are now held for uppercrust black women. Hustlers are roaming the city squares, blending in with the students from nearby colleges. The women addressed as “Lady so-and-so” are not always female.
The attempted modernization is subdued, kept under wraps, a blind eye is turned to it, or rebuked. There’s just too much opposition to change and the noises and distractions of the world.
Interesting cast of characters. Intrigue around a murder case which involves one of society’s wealthiest and prominent members and a bum.
However, like its long name, the book is a long, slow read.
It’s a book that I’m glad that I read, but would have been fine never reading. The only thing this book did for me was give me a bit of history on Savannah and make me long to visit it and take in its beauty firsthand.
If your interest is piqued, the movie is a great rendition of the book, directed by Clint Eastwood, with a spectacular group of actors. It is about 2 1/2 hours long, but trust me, will feel like a lot less time wasted than if you sit down to read this!