The downfall of this book was in its advertising comparing it to "The Help." The bar was simply set too high. Where the characters of The Help are individually interesting and dynamic--while still fitting together into an emotionally rich story of a girl growing into womanhood during a dark period of US history--the cast of Beautiful Ruins if mostly static and annoying. The prose is luscious at times but doesn't seem to weave into the the type of characters you sympathize with or even hate after you've flipped over the final page. Whereas with The Help I wanted to sit and laugh and cry with Minny Jackson or spit vitriol at Hilly Holbrook, I generally found most of the citizens of Beautiful Ruins to be inconsequential, with the exception of possibly Pasquale.
The star of this audiobook is the narrator Edoardo Ballerini. His voice has something special--it reminds in a qualitative way to Frank Muller! It's that good. Like with Muller, the book may be worth listening to just because Ballerini is at the helm.
Erase "The Help" from your minds. Focus Ballerini's performance. Think of a real love story--the kind that don't work out as planned--set it to the cadence and sternness of an Italian grandmother giving you a life lesson amidst a summer sea breeze. If you can do that--unlike me--then maybe this book is for you.
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