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
Depends on the friend. Would have to be someone who enjoys the superficial of persons and doesn't get annoyed by selfishness.
No. At times it was gripping. But whent he end rolled around I was left disappointed.
Probably a few too many characters. The richness of some was lost in the lack of exploration of others.
Edoardo Bellerini is possibly the best narrator I have ever listened to. There is no doubt that his impeccable narration added to my enjoyment of Jess Walter's novel. Many narrators are not able to successfully read with different accents or different genders - Bellerini does it beautifully, and truly captures the personalities of each character, as well as the humor in the book.
In a way it reminded me of Seating Arrangements, though I'm not sure why; maybe because it exposes the flaws of the characters. The technique of alternating between the past and the present reminds me of Olive Kittredge and Gone Girl. But in reality, Beautiful Ruins bears no resemblance to these stories.
His voice is strong. He absolutely gets the book, so his voice reflects humor when the story is funny, and is solemn when the story is sad. Bellerini has the rare talent of being able to read the male and female parts convincingly. He also does a good job with the Italian and the Italian accents of Pasquale and the other Italiian characters. Bellerini could read the phone book and I would listen! I think of all of the audiobooks I haven't enjoyed, and I wonder how my listening experience would change if Bellerini narrated them.
I like the name, but I titled my review Beautiful Surprises because this book was a complete surprise to me, not only in the plot, but because I was never sure what was going to happen to the characters. And I cared about each one, even the completely obnoxious ones! I also was expecting a drama, and got so much more.
Somewhat interesting story but did drag at times. Not at all what I expected it to be.
Not really sure. Wasn't hooked on it but got all the way through it.
I was amazed at how he was able to make you feel all these different people and the different voices he did. Very talented.
This is an entertaining read, it rates pretty highly with me but it isn't profound or deep.
It is heartwarming and gives you a good feeling about human kind.
Definitely recommend. It's rare to find a writer that can weave a story like Walters with witty dialogue. The performance by Ballerini was special.
the tale itself has a central theme: as human beings, we long to matter. Matter to a lover, a career, matter just to say we made a mark on the world. Aside from each of these characters being fully realized, and their desires to have their lives really count with both tragic and triumphant results, you will, I guarantee you, see a part of yourself in this story. It is healing as it is agonizing, and in that combination we see ourselves. Imperfectly perfect beings trying to find love, acceptance, and peace in many varied forms.
Stellar narration as well.
I have listened to over 250 audio books, and I would rank this one among the top five, right up there with another of my favorites: The History of Love. The story, which jumps back and forth, from chapter to chapter, from Italy in 1962 to Hollywood today, is fascinating: both delightful and sad. The many characters, whose stories are beautifully woven together, were well-drawn; I was interested in all of them. And the narrator was outstanding. I highly recommend this book!
I found this selection difficult to follow and uncomfortably jumpy in time and space. Narration was good. I just didn't care about the characters and the Hollywood dialogue was, to me, rather boring and repetitive. I tried to reread sections, as since I knew my mind was wandering I assumed I had just missed too much, but the re-listening was not satisfactory. After listening to about 3/4 of the novel, I decided there were too many other audibles that I was eager to listen to so I deleted this from my iTunes.
Easy to listen and captivating, the story switches between post-war Italy and nowadays Hollywood and follows the intertwined lives of an Italian hotel keeper, an American actress and the man who made a living manipulating with people's lives.
I read it amidst a harsh cold winter but can just imagine laying out in the sun on some beautiful beach, listening to this wonderful tale and hearing the ocean waves splash in the background.
Yes. It was not fantastic but still pretty entertaining.
Yes, but would not be on the top of my list
Histrionic, stereotypical, uninspired
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