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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Nonfiction Novel That Reveals Savannah's Secrets

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Epub: A Gripping Tale of Murder and Mystery in Savannah

If you are looking for a captivating and intriguing story that will transport you to the charming and eccentric city of Savannah, Georgia, then you should definitely check out Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. This book is a nonfiction novel that blends factual reporting with fictional elements to create a compelling narrative that revolves around a sensational murder trial. The book also offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives and secrets of some of Savannah's most colorful and eccentric residents, as well as its rich and diverse culture, history, and society. In this article, we will give you an overview of what this book is about, who wrote it, what are its main themes, how it was received by critics and readers, and how it was adapted into other media formats. By the end of this article, you will have a good idea of why this book is worth reading and how you can get your hands on an epub version of it.

Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil Epub

The Author: John Berendt and his background

John Berendt is an American journalist and author who was born in New York City in 1939. He graduated from Harvard University in 1961 with a degree in English literature. He worked as an editor for various magazines, such as Esquire, New York, and Vanity Fair. He also wrote several articles for these publications, covering topics such as art, culture, politics, and travel. He is best known for his two nonfiction novels, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1994) and The City of Falling Angels (2005), both of which are based on his experiences living in different cities and exploring their unique cultures and histories.

Berendt first visited Savannah in 1982, when he was working as a freelance writer. He was captivated by the city's charm, beauty, and eccentricity, and decided to stay there for a while. He rented an apartment in one of the historic houses in the downtown area, and began to mingle with the locals. He soon discovered that Savannah was a city full of secrets, scandals, gossip, and intrigue. He also learned about a murder case that had shaken the city's high society. A wealthy antiques dealer named Jim Williams had shot his young lover, Danny Hansford, in his mansion during an argument. Williams claimed self-defense, but the prosecution argued that it was a cold-blooded murder motivated by jealousy. The case went through four trials before Williams was finally acquitted. Berendt decided to write a book about this case and its impact on Savannah's society. He interviewed many people who were involved or interested in the case, such as lawyers, judges, witnesses, reporters, friends, relatives, enemies, and bystanders. He also met many other fascinating characters who added color and flavor to his story, such as drag queens, voodoo priestesses, con artists, socialites, musicians, artists, historians, and eccentrics.

The Plot: A summary of the main events and characters

The book is divided into two parts: "The City of Good and Evil" and "The City of Midnight". The first part introduces the city of Savannah and its main characters, as well as the background of the murder case. The second part focuses on the trials and their outcomes, as well as the aftermath of the case. The book is narrated by Berendt himself, who acts as a guide and a witness to the events. He also inserts his own opinions and observations, as well as some fictional elements, such as dialogue and scenes, to make the story more engaging and dramatic.

The book begins with Berendt arriving in Savannah and meeting some of its residents, such as Joe Odom, a charming and charismatic lawyer who lives in other people's houses without paying rent; Emma Kelly, a pianist who is known as "The Lady of 6,000 Songs" for her vast repertoire; Luther Driggers, a former inventor who claims to have a vial of poison that can kill the entire city; Minerva, a voodoo priestess who helps Berendt communicate with the dead; and Chablis, a drag queen who becomes Berendt's friend and confidante. Berendt also meets Jim Williams, the owner of Mercer House, a lavish mansion that he restored with his exquisite taste and wealth. Williams is a self-made man who rose from humble origins to become one of the most successful and influential antiques dealers in the country. He is also a closeted homosexual who has a turbulent relationship with Danny Hansford, a young and volatile hustler who works for him.

The book then describes the night of the murder, May 2, 1981, when Williams shot Hansford in his study after an argument. Williams called the police and claimed that he acted in self-defense, but the evidence suggested otherwise. The police arrested Williams and charged him with murder. The book then follows the four trials that Williams went through, each with different judges, juries, lawyers, witnesses, and verdicts. The first trial ended with a hung jury; the second trial resulted in a conviction; the third trial was overturned on appeal; and the fourth trial ended with an acquittal. The book also shows how the case affected Savannah's society, exposing its divisions, prejudices, corruption, and hypocrisy. The book also reveals some surprising twists and turns, such as Williams' involvement in a smuggling ring, Hansford's troubled past and family, and Williams' mysterious death shortly after his acquittal.

The Themes: How the book explores various aspects of Savannah's culture, history, and society

One of the main themes of the book is the contrast between appearance and reality, or good and evil. The book shows how Savannah is a city that prides itself on its beauty, charm, elegance, and tradition, but also hides many dark secrets, scandals, crimes, and sins. The book also shows how many of the characters have dual or multiple identities or personalities, such as Williams, who is both a respected businessman and a closeted homosexual; Hansford, who is both a victim and a villain; Chablis, who is both a man and a woman; Minerva, who is both a Christian and a voodoo practitioner; and Berendt himself, who is both a journalist and a novelist. The book also explores how these characters navigate their complex and contradictory roles in Savannah's society.

Another theme of the book is the influence of history on the present. The book shows how Savannah is a city that is steeped in history and preserves its heritage with great care and reverence. The book also shows how many of the characters are fascinated by history and use it to shape their identities or agendas. For example, Williams collects antiques and restores historic houses to express his taste and status; Hansford claims to be related to a famous Confederate general to boost his ego; Minerva uses ancient African rituals to perform her magic; Chablis dresses up as historical figures to entertain her audiences; and Berendt uses historical references to enrich his story.

The Reception: How the book was received by critics and readers

The book was published in 1994 and became an instant bestseller. It received critical acclaim from many reviewers, who praised its style, structure, humor, and insight. The book was also nominated for several awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, the National Book Award for Nonfiction, and the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime. The book also attracted a large and loyal fan base, who were fascinated by the book's characters and settings. Many readers visited Savannah to see the places and meet the people featured in the book. The book also boosted Savannah's tourism and economy, as well as its cultural and historical recognition.

However, the book also faced some criticism and controversy from some quarters. Some critics accused Berendt of exaggerating or fabricating some of the details or events in the book, or of violating the privacy or reputation of some of the characters. Some of the characters themselves also expressed dissatisfaction or resentment with how they were portrayed or treated by Berendt. Some Savannahians also complained that the book gave a distorted or negative image of their city, or that it exploited their culture and history for commercial gain.

The Adaptations: How the book was adapted into a movie and a musical

The book was adapted into a movie in 1997, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring John Cusack as Berendt, Kevin Spacey as Williams, Jude Law as Hansford, and Lady Chablis as herself. The movie followed the main plot and characters of the book, but also made some changes and additions, such as introducing a love interest for Berendt, adding a subplot involving a corrupt police officer, and changing some of the outcomes of the trials. The movie received mixed reviews from critics and audiences, who praised its performances, cinematography, and atmosphere, but criticized its pace, length, and fidelity to the book. The movie was also a moderate box office success, grossing $25 million against a budget of $35 million.

The book was also adapted into a musical in 2013, with music and lyrics by Sheryl Crow and John Keltonic, and a book by Alfred Uhry. The musical premiered at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, and starred Tony Award winner Shuler Hensley as Williams, Jeremy Davidson as Berendt, Travis Smith as Hansford, and Terry Burrell as Minerva. The musical followed the main plot and characters of the book, but also added some songs and scenes to highlight the musical and cultural aspects of Savannah. The musical received positive reviews from critics and audiences, who praised its score, cast, and direction. The musical also won several awards, such as the Suzi Bass Award for Outstanding Musical Production.

Conclusion: A brief recap of the main points and a recommendation to read the book

In conclusion, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a captivating and intriguing nonfiction novel that tells a gripping tale of murder and mystery in Savannah. The book introduces us to a fascinating cast of characters who reveal the secrets and scandals of Savannah's society. The book also explores various aspects of Savannah's culture, history, and society, showing us its beauty and charm as well as its darkness and complexity. The book is a masterpiece of storytelling that blends fact and fiction to create a compelling narrative that will keep you hooked until the end. If you are looking for a thrilling and entertaining read that will transport you to a different world, then you should definitely read this book. You can download an epub version of this book from this link:

FAQs: Five frequently asked questions about the book and their answers

  • Is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil based on a true story?

Yes, it is based on a true story. The murder case and most of the characters are real. However, some of the details or events are fictionalized or embellished by the author to make the story more engaging and dramatic.

  • How accurate is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil?

It depends on who you ask. Some people say that it is mostly accurate and faithful to what happened in Savannah. Others say that it is exaggerated or inaccurate in some parts. The author himself admits that he used some creative license and artistic freedom to tell his story.

  • What is the meaning of the title Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil?

The title refers to the contrast between appearance and reality, or good and evil, that is a theme of the book. It also refers to the time and place of the murder, which happened at midnight in the garden of Mercer House, which was decorated with statues of good and evil.

  • Who is the Lady of 6,000 Songs?

The Lady of 6,000 Songs is Emma Kelly, a pianist who was known for her vast repertoire of songs. She played at many events and venues in Savannah, and was a friend of Jim Williams. She also appeared in the movie and the musical as herself.

  • What happened to Jim Williams after his acquittal?

Jim Williams died of a heart attack in his study, in the same spot where he shot Danny Hansford, eight months after his acquittal. Some people believe that he was cursed by voodoo or haunted by Hansford's ghost.


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