This was a gorgeous and well-crafted story. Effortlessly transitioning from 1960's Italy to present-day Los Angeles, the story spans decades and characters. This is another story for which I'd like to recommend the audiobook narrated by Edoardo Ballerini. He is a talented storyteller and brings each character to life with his careful inflection - not once does his performance pull you out of the story, rather it accentuates it. A young Italian bed and breakfast owner/dreamer, an unknown actress, and the Hollywood machine in luscious settings make for an unforgettable story.
People who like drug store bestseller books (think "The Help") might enjoy this one more. The plot was pretty contrived and drawn out - if the book were a third thinner, maybe it would move better. I bought this because it got such high reviews on Audible but by the end of it i was forcing myself to listen and hoping the main character would die.
to be fair the narrator is great.
All the indulgent chapters that revolved around explaining movie plotlines or acting out a scene from a play. Also the ENTIRE ANNOYING CHARACTER that is "Pat"
The layered storytelling, different voices, unexpected twists, and the surprising appearance of places and themes that I know and love.
Pasquale. He is the catalyst without whom the story would not move forward. More than that, he's a good man. Usually, especially in drama, the good man is a cardboard cutout of a figure and the more interesting characters are deeply flawed, giving them depth and requiring much more exploration. Good characters are generally straightforward and boring. But not so Pasquale. He, like all of us, struggles to do the right thing. And it is in this struggle, completely opposite to the "cinema people" around him and so much like ourselves, that makes him so appealing. He does the right thing the first time around. He doesn't need the journey of struggle, failure and redemption. He struggles and is redeemed without needing the journey through hell. As the catalyst, and as a good man, the story can pivot around him and as readers/listeners, we cheer for him for doing the right thing and through his story, we too are redeemed.
The beauty and music of fluent Italian. Also a unique voice for each of the characters that somehow manages to reflect age, gender, regional accent, emotional state, etc., all without devolving into caricatures.
Having grown up in central Washington state, I know that the pronunciations of Cle Elum and Kittatas can be tricky. Even President Kennedy once mispronounced Spokane. However, I'm happy to forgive the slip of the tongue in exchange for the brilliance of fluent Italian.
Yes, but due to life interfering, I had to break it down into several sittings. In fact, I was thankful to get sick so that I could listen to the last half without feeling that I should be doing something else.
I highly recommend this book. It's masterful storytelling narrated by a masterful vocal artist.
I loved the story and really loved the reader. I found the jumping around in time easy to follow and found myself loving and caring about the characters. It seems so believable, I didn't want it to end.
Say something about yourself!
I loved this book. It never failed to keep my interest. It was a wonderful love story and a sad one. I felt the titillation of looking behind the curtain into lives both public and private. What a good writer Jess Walter is! I am impressed.
The book jumps from character to character and from time period to time period and yet it all fit together. I was never lost. Loved it. If you were around in the 60s, I think you will remember and love it even more. I can't say more without giving away plot. If you love Italy or romance (I do not mean so-called "chick lit") or old time movies or the 60s, you will like this book.
I really enjoyed Edoardo Ballerini's voice. It was inherently expressive and likeable, and really pulled me in.
I fell in love with the story and the narrator!! Edoardo Ballerini is fantastic! The pairing of Jess Walter's story with Mr. Ballerini as narrator was "magnifico"!
If you want a novel to to take you to some place exotic and introduce you to characters you care about and totally capture you, you'll love Beautiful Ruins. It's hard to imagine any lover of great fiction not being entertained by this story. I've been a member for several years and this ranks as one of my favorites. Download it now.