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Don't Miss Beautiful Ruins

Your fellow listeners and our editors haven't been this excited about a book since The Help.

Every once in a while, a book comes out of nowhere and surprises our editors. With countless five-star reviews, Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins is quickly becoming one of them – and an absolute Audible sensation. It's already a strong contender for our 'Audiobook of the Year', as listeners have raved about this "unexpected delight" and "beautiful, complicated book". Narrator Edoardo Ballerini has impressed many with this recording, and a recent Salon.com review said that his "handling of this fantastically complex narration is so accomplished you keep forgetting that it's a performance". In the video below, Edoardo took some time to explain why Beautiful Ruins could be considered a "modern-day classic", and in an audio interview, author Jess Walter shares the experiences he had in developing and writing the novel. Will yours be the next five-star review of Beautiful Ruins?


  • Beautiful Ruins

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Jess Walter
    • Narrated By Edoardo Ballerini
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying. And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot - searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

    Ella says: "My mind wandered"

    Author Interview

    Jess Walter discusses his novel.
Our editors share their thoughts on the surprise hit of the year.

Diana D. on Beautiful Ruins

Until Beautiful Ruins, I had never read any of Jess Walter’s work, nor listened to any of Edoardo Ballerini’s performances. But when I started listening to their masterful collaboration I got the same feeling I did when listening to Water for Elephants and The Help for the first time. There’s something special here, without a doubt. Ballerini caught my attention right away, as the novel starts out with a description of the Cinque Terre along Italy’s coast and is made even more beautiful by his impeccable Italian. Walter speaks of intersecting lives and flips back and forth between present-day Hollywood and the Italian Riviera of the 1960s, telling a captivating story of love, disillusionment, friendship, and the realities of responsibility that I won’t soon forget (and won’t stop recommending until everyone I know has a similar soft spot in their heart for Pasquale Tursi!)...Show More »

Emily on Beautiful Ruins

The problem I often find with panoramic works of fiction is that too many characters and too many time periods can dilute the power of a novel. It’s tough to spread ourselves so thin in real life, and it’s the same with a book: how can you care about so many characters at once? But in Beautiful Ruins – a grand work that reaches back 60 years and stretches to encapsulate a remote Italian village and the glamour of Hollywood under the same roof – Jess Walter manages to make every character’s individual perspective legitimate. From the German World War II soldier whose name we never learn, to the 19 year-old drug dealer/club promoter/romantic, and even to Richard Burton himself, Walter gives each character a voice – but not a pigeonhole...Show More »