midnightWho wrote this book and when?
John Berendt published this in 1994.

Has there been a film version?
Yes, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Kevin Spacey and Jude Law.

Who are the important characters?
The narrator – a reporter, supposed to be John Berendt (the author)
Jim Williams – a Savannah socialite, embroiled in a murder trial
Danny Hansford – a volatile young man with a loud car, a penchant for sex and drugs, and an explosive temper
The Lady Chablis – a transvestite performer
Joe Odom – a musician and semi-swindler, friend of the narrator
Minerva – a local voodoo practitioner

What is it about?
The narrator (Berendt) has been introduced to the slow moving but serious social life of Savannah, particularly that of Jim Williams. Williams has not been officially crowned as the king of the social circle, but is fairly close. Berendt also befriends a local piano player named Joe Odom, who moves around to different deserted houses to run a tour location and music joint, and the Lady Chablis – a performing transvestite who impresses Berendt to be her chauffeur.

When a shocking shooting happens in the realms of high society, Savannah finds itself caught up in one of the most interesting (and drawn out) murder trials in the city’s history.

Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
It is based on true events, features real people, and is also highly entertaining/engrossing.

Do I recommend you read this book?
Yes, but there is obviously violence in it (a shooting among other things), sexual themes (a transvestite and homosexual tones), and language.

How did this book make my list?
I visited Savannah this past spring and wanted to read it after visiting, since they advertise the movie/book everywhere. It’s pretty much the only competition for Paula Deen.

Has it won any awards?
I don’t think so.

Favorite quotes:
“Minerva was sitting in a small room under a bare light bulb. She was like a sack of flour. Her cotton dress was stretched tight over her round body. Her skin was a pale brown, and her face was as round as a tranquil moon.” – p 244

Anything else?
The movie is so drastically different from the book, you almost need to consider it a different story. Just to warn you. 🙂

Personal thoughts:
It was lovely to read a book with places in it that were real and some of which I have actually seen with my own eyes. The characters are all based on real people and the events actually happened – which, after reading the book, sounds a bit ridiculous. (Just ridiculous enough to be true.) I don’t usually enjoy reading books that could be classified as mysteries (which our library considers this) but this book is one of the exceptions. It’s completely enthralling – with me staying up to the tiny morning hours reading just one more chapter. While every part of it doesn’t seem to be tied to the central plot (the Lady Chablis, for example) they all help to make up the gorgeous painting which gives a glimpse into Savannah life.