ABM Book Club Discussion: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Friday, February 27, 2015

In January the A Beautiful Mess Book Club read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. I opted to read the novel first even though there's a movie version of this book because skipping to the movie would feel like cheating.

Even though I come from Kansas, I haven't done very much traveling to the deep south, but this book painted a very intriguing and enticing image of Savannah, Georgia that's made me want to visit this city and see if the characters and places really do exists (FYI: My favorite character was the Lady Chablis because I enjoyed her attitude and sass).  

Book Club Questions:

-  Did Jim kill Danny? And while we’re talking about Jim, is he a sympathetic character at all? Is he funny and charming, or more deceiving and dark? 
Danny was no saint and appeared to have many flaws (struggles with drugs and anger), but I think that Jim became jealous when Danny began seeing the art student and the pair may have had an argument which lead to Jim killing Danny. 

It's easy to be sympathetic towards Jim because Jim is so funny and charismatic in addition to being smart, powerful and a pillar in Savannah's community, but I also believe Jim also had a dark, oppositional and secretive side. We're able to see Jim's oppositional side in the way he displays the Nazi flag in the window to disrupt the movie crew from filming his house. Jim also casually uses his status and wealth to turn over antiques, get better accommodations in prison and get his needs and wants met both in and out of prison. It's not so difficult to conclude that Jim easily could have manipulated the young, poor, recovering addict Danny into committing crimes for Jim in addition to becoming his lover. I think the most brilliant part of Jim's character is that Jim demonstraits many qualities reminiscent of Descartes evil demon , and is even able to manipulate the reader into considering Danny's murder to be justified.

-  Do we have a sense for what is good and what is evil in Savannah? My eyebrows are raised, and I’m not sure what’s what. 
I think that part of the reason that the author introduces us to such a vibrant and quirky cast of characters is to make us question what is good and what is evil. Some people might be quick to judge Lady Chablis as evil because of her sexual orientation, but she seems to have a great relationship with her boyfriend and didn't seem remotely evil to me. 

In this story, I think Jim is the representation of evil because he is so powerful, wealthy and charismatic that he is able to get away with murder.

-  Do you wonder how much Minerva really knows?  
Yes. I was skeptical of Minerva's style of magic throughout the book, but in the end she did get results. 

-  This story makes Savannah seem like such an insular and closed city. Could this story have taken place anywhere else?
I don't feel like this story could have taken place anywhere, but it could have taken place in any insular and isolated town or city. 

-  Lastly, how much do you wish that Luther Driggers' glow-in-the-dark goldfish worked?  
Glow-in-the-dark goldfish would be so cool! I guess I'll have to just settle for watching nature programs with bio-luminescent fish.

Have you read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil or watched the movie? Feel free to add your thoughts on them below.

Next the A Beautiful Mess Book Club is reading Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. It was a quick read and I'm already finished so check back soon for my discussion.

1 comment

  1. I'm a huge fan of the book. If you ever get a chance to go to Savannah, go on a "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" tour. Also go to Club One and see The Lady Chablis perform when she's in town. My husband and I wrote a book entitled "Honeymoon in Savannah: A Detective Santy Mystery" that talks about many of the scenes in "The Book" as the people in Savannah call it. By the way, we went to the Mercer House (the scene of the crime) and the tour guide told us that Jim shot Danny in self-defense. I'm not so sure about that, but I knew better than to say anything. ;)


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