We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
Beautiful Ruins Audiobook

Beautiful Ruins

Regular Price:$26.45
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential - Jess Walter’s beautiful and shimmering novel was our editors’ pick for Best Book of 2012, so it was an obvious contender as a new Essential. But Essentials can’t simply be flash-in the pan momentary book crushes, the books on this list have to have legs, and we think that Beautiful Ruins certainly qualifies. Sweeping in scope and breadth, the message within this book runs deep and across generations. And Edoardo Ballerini’s magnificent and elegant narration bestows a level of believability and immediacy to the epic themes at play here. —Emily

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Nominee, Fiction and Best Solo Narration, 2013

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.

What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning 50 years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist, and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion - along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow.

Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.

©2012 Jess Walter (P)2012 HarperCollins Publisher

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (8484 )
5 star
 (3198)
4 star
 (2958)
3 star
 (1532)
2 star
 (459)
1 star
 (337)
Overall
3.9 (7407 )
5 star
 (2784)
4 star
 (2460)
3 star
 (1440)
2 star
 (418)
1 star
 (305)
Story
4.3 (7414 )
5 star
 (4089)
4 star
 (2161)
3 star
 (829)
2 star
 (169)
1 star
 (166)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Charles Atkinson Greensboro, NC, United States 08-23-12
    Charles Atkinson Greensboro, NC, United States 08-23-12 Member Since 2015

    From 4/12/15 on, I will only rate a book 5 stars if it so good I will listen to it again. To date, the Bino series tops that list.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4535
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    699
    423
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1620
    11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Easily my new favorite book from AUDIBLE."

    I purchased this book on the recommendation of its reader, Edoardo Ballerini. His work on Lou Burney's Gutshot Straight made me a huge fan of his and the author. So I purchased it without knowing the first thing about it. What a treasure!

    In my review of "14" I listed Mr. Ballerini as one of the top 4 readers on Audible. Scott Brick being a distant 5th, Edoardo competes for the top spot with Will Patton (James Lee Burke novels), Tom Stechschulte (No Country For Old Men) and Ray Porter (Dawn Patrol). The bottom line is that Ballerini's work is up to the task of this masterpiece of modern literature.

    As for the book, I can only say I fell in love with all of it. I loved its history, beauty, tragedy, romance, mystery, characters and storytelling. Does this make you want to listen? I hope so, because it is so much more...

    29 of 34 people found this review helpful
  •  
    FanB14 08-18-13
    FanB14 08-18-13

    Short, Simple, No Spoilers

    HELPFUL VOTES
    6440
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    182
    166
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    485
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Over Hyped"

    Friends raved about this one and reviewers gave it 5 stars so I took a chance. Beautiful Ruins was not for me. Good premise adding a backstory to the Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor firestorm making Cleopatra, with new characters. Parts were entertaining, but overall, the different points of view were disjointed, not flowing back together and characters were not developed beyond surface aspects. The ideas were present yet not explored with enough detail, creating real people you cared about. The ending was rushed.

    57 of 68 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kimberly 07-08-12
    Kimberly 07-08-12 Member Since 2007

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    245
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    232
    115
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    37
    23
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "OH!!! WOW!!!"

    I LOVE this book! The title is perfect. Even some ruins are just as beautiful in what they became as how they started out - completely different but beutiful. I???m still crying because???the book ended? the book/end was so well done? because I could have never imagined it would end this way. YES to all.

    This book has so many great elements ??? and the narration of Edoardo Ballerini ??? spot on!! I laughed until I cried (especially the Richard Burton scenes ??? but so many others!), and I cried and didn???t want to stop. I lost a whole weekend because I could not stop listening ??? this is a warning. The only critical thing I can say about it is some parts start at the end and work back, some parts don???t, but in the end it was perfect. Rest assured you end up knowing what you need to know ??? and I would NOT change a thing. DO NOT SKIP THE EPILOG.

    I would buy this again if I had to; thank goodness I can listen to it as many times as I want. Thank you Jess Walter and Audible!

    Jess Walter - I will read anything you write from now on (I say that now...:).

    The best review

    32 of 38 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diana - Audible NJ, United States 09-26-12
    Diana - Audible NJ, United States 09-26-12 Member Since 2010

    "Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them." --Lemony Snicket

    HELPFUL VOTES
    556
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    437
    37
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    321
    15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I will not stop recommending this book!"

    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!).

    Next up...everything else that Jess Walter has written and Edoardo Ballerini has narrated!

    22 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 10-20-12
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 10-20-12 Member Since 2006

    Addicted to Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1901
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    379
    214
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    465
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Have recommended to my friends"

    I am not sure I would have loved this book as much if I had read it, but listening was a wonderful experience! The Narrator was superb and I was transported to Italy, America and back many times. I did not find the switching between past and present difficult to follow as I do in other books. I enjoyed the intertwined stories and the way they were all tied up neatly in the end. Having a daughter who is currently studying film restoration and preservation at UCLA right now also made it quite interesting to me, as that was Claire's background. Great literature - NO, an enjoyable and entertaining listen - YES!!

    26 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Delman San Francisco 08-22-12
    Richard Delman San Francisco 08-22-12 Member Since 2016

    I am a 65-year-old psychologist, married for 25 years, with two sons who are 25 and 22. I love reviewing the books and the feedback I get.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3112
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    493
    219
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1117
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "YOU...MUST...READ...THIS."

    This is one of the most beautiful and entertaining works I have read in a very long time. I had never heard of Jess Walter, but I sure will watch for him now. I had heard the voice(s) of Edoardo Balerini, reading Lou Berney's Gutshot Straight, and I loved the narration. Balerini's Italian is magical. The language just flows off his tongue with such gorgeous melodies and passages that you just want to visit Italy right now. The story itself is very complex (Braided is the author's word for the structure, and, duh, it is the perfect word.) The book follows the lives of a few Italians who live in a tiny village called Porto Vergogna, a place so small that it can only be reached by fishing boat. The other characters are Americans. Deborah Moore is a tall, beautiful actress who is sent to the town for spurious reasons. Rome is lit up by the filming of Cleopatra, and the world is lit up by the romance of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton. Many other characters come into and out of the lives of the protagonists, and the book spans the time between 1962 and the present. The writing is extremely skillful. Several chapters are written in different voices, and Walter manages this feat beautifully. I loved this book without qualification. It is full of life, hope, sadness, genuine redemption and most of all, love. I cannot imagine an Audible reader not loving this book.

    48 of 58 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 04-01-13
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 04-01-13 Member Since 2008

    Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1908
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    512
    298
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    191
    43
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "For me, a very disappointing listen (spoilers)"

    With all the 5 star reviews, I felt I couldn't go wrong with this book. Much to my surprise, I did not enjoy it at all. It started out in Italy and seemed very promising. Then it began jumping back and forth in time. Then, the author added numerous unlikeable characters. Then there was the Richard Burton and Liz Taylor thread. All the while, the narrator sounded like he had taken lessons from Scott Brick. He just got carried away with himself. While he was fine with the Italian accents, I really disliked his performance with the rest of the characters and his style of speaking. I would not seek out this narrator and perhaps might even avoid him in the future.

    As for the story itself, it seemed a bit farfetched to believe a woman could confuse pregnancy with stomach cancer. We heard over and over again about how beautiful she was but little else was developed about her personality, other than she raised a very disturbed son and seemed to be a basket case herself. The Hollywood characters bored me to tears. Then, there wasn't enough payoff in the end. I kept hoping the ending would redeem it for me.

    All the while, I kept wondering what was wrong with me. How could I dislike a book with such consistent rave reviews? I started going back to the reviews, reading them in hopes I would find the missing element that would enhance this experience for me. It didn't work. I guess you can't please all of the people all of the time.

    32 of 39 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B.J. Minneapolis, MN, United States 07-21-12
    B.J. Minneapolis, MN, United States 07-21-12 Member Since 2010

    I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3036
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    445
    186
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1002
    16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A beautiful, complicated book"

    Let me say from the top that the narration of this book has got to be one of the best ever. The voices of the characters are perfect. It deserves something more than 5 stars. Then again, there was a lot to work with. Love and loss, dreams, reality, responsibility, family ... it's all here. It's impossible not to relate to just a little bit of most of the characters - all of whom are deep and flawed and very real. Terrific book club book. Lots to talk about after.

    24 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janyce 07-17-12
    Janyce 07-17-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    23
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautiful novel"
    Any additional comments?

    I was told about this book by a friend who had read the printed version. After listening to the excellent narration of a wonderful story, I wanted to tell my friend she had somehow been cheated and desperately needed to listen to it! Truly a fantastic book and narration. And, it didn't hurt that my mother's family is originally from the region of Italy depicted in the story... a beautiful part of a beautiful country.

    20 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Russell Keswick, ON, Canada 11-07-12
    Russell Keswick, ON, Canada 11-07-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    736
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    63
    59
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    125
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Deep Insight into the Human Condition"

    This is one of the best books I've listened to in years. The amazing part is it didn't need thrilling suspense, a great science fiction idea (one of my weaknesses) or intense action to keep me interested. In other words my usual over sugary drink - which we all know can lead to poor health, was reduced down to a clear sparkling refreshing plain old glass of water.

    This is a great story that unfolds over many eras and from different perspectives with a little dash of celebrity to add some spice.

    The insights this author has into how we sometimes miscommunicate or misinterpret our reality was a joy to hear because we don't always admit to or realize those inaccuracies are a part of our life. Why is that delightful? Because it explains so much in how things don't always turn out the way we are trying to steer them and are not always the way we imagine them. (I'm thinking of how a main character was way off in her inspired interpretation of a painting left by a German Soldier.)

    I was uplifted by this story and for all of those readers like me who are wary of books that don't punch with the usual thrills of zombies, vampires, aliens, murder ... (this list of some of my weaknesses can go on quite long) ... please take a chance on this book. You won't be disappointed.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.