ATL

Midnight Tour of Savannah

by Brandon Schultz

Aug 17, 2019

River Street © Natalia Bratslavsky | Dreamstime

Destinations / North America

Give anyone a few chances to guess the book that dominated The New York Times bestseller list the longest, and you’re likely to hear one of the Harry Potter titles, and, in some version of technical truth, they’d be correct. But before there was Harry Potter, there was Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt’s ode to the ever-charming Southern city of Savannah, complete with colorful characters embodying both the elite and underbelly of the city, mysterious settings like the now-famous Bonaventure cemetery and a series of sensational murder trials. Based on actual events, Midnignt remained a New York Times bestseller for a record-breaking 216 weeks, and, technically, has yet to be eclipsed. (Harry Potter’s dominance of the list sparked the creation of a separate list for juvenile titles, to which the series was relegated, leaving adult fiction free of Pottermania.)

 

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the book that put Savannah on the map, and several of its landmarks remain popular destinations for fans. If you’re looking to relive some of the Midnight magic for yourself, head directly to the Mercer-Williams house and tour the 10,000-square-foot mansion home to the story’s protagonist and the scene of the book’s central murder. Four miles outside the city center, don’t miss Bonaventure Cemetery, where some of the book’s most mysterious moments occur, and where Spanish moss and elaborate sculpture create one of Savannah’s most eerily beautiful settings. The infamous statue of cover fame is no longer in the cemetery, since moved to Telfair Academy, open to the public, for its protection and preservation. Though Midnight’s legendary transgender performer, Lady Chablis, passed away in 2016, you can still visit Club One, where she reigned as the “grand empress.” The best way to experience the book for yourself, though, is to grab a copy, take a seat in picturesque Monterey Square and begin reading. Everything you find within can still be found in the city around.

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