Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

One of the main elements we all took away from this book was the fact that we couldn't quite believe that it was non-fiction. All the characters seem to be much larger than life, and for them all to occur in such a small area of Savannah we found to be unbelievable. It does seem very odd that so many unusual characters existed in such close proximity, maybe it's to do with the heat in Savannah, maybe it just attracts a certain type of inhabitant, but it certainly sounds like a very interesting place to live. It made us wonder how John Berendt managed to get so many people to open up with so many confidences while he himself seemed to be such a quiet character. Maybe it was easier to portray himself as such a person, wouldn't we all portray our best side if we wrote a novel about ourselves?

We were all quite shocked that this book had been banned for its sex scenes, we couldn't see that they were all that shocking. In fact many of us could hardly remember what happened in them. Some of the scenes to do with Chablis were more shocking, maybe because it felt as though she was out of her time living in this southern town. It was amazing that a person like Chablis was accepted so readily within Savannah. This may be because we are only shown the small group of people around her, who would obviously accept her, there may have been others who had they known about her would not have been so accepting.

Although this book was only written recently (1994) we all felt that it had a much more dated feel to it. There were a lot of old fashioned attitudes shown in the book, along with a happiness for those living in the town to remain in this older, maybe more genteel era. This sat rather oddly with the unusual characters who we felt may not have been so accepted had the book actually been set in the era we felt it was set in.

Overall the whole book felt more like a series of newspaper articles about things that happened to John Berendt during his time living in Savannah. There was not much of a plot to the book, each chapter sat on its own, with very little to drag you into the next chapter apart from a need to see whether a favourite character was mentioned. Although this in itself was often a very strong reason to carry on into the next chapter.

Overall we gave this book 5 out of 10, mostly because not everyone had finished the whole book.