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
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I stopped listening after a few chapters. I might try again when I'm bored.
I feel I wasted my credit on this one; I went off other recommendations but I found it very slow; I couldn't stick with it and jumped to the end just to see what happened.
I just couldn't get into this story. It started off too slow and still hadn't picked up the pace by the 5th chapter.
While I appreciated the author's descriptive elements with regards to the characters and scenery, at times it was overkill and just not necessary. It really made the book drag.
I thought the narrator did well with the Italian accent necessary for certain characters, however I didn't care for his overall performance. His narration of female voices was too airy and wishy-washy, almost making the primary character sound dippy and contrary to how the author described her.
Just really not sure why Audible picked this as the best book of 2012. I was expecting absolute greatness and didn't get it. Have read better.
I too clicked on the icon of the book by mistake. When I read Cindy's review I was intrigued.
She said it was the best mistake she ever made. I ordinarily would not have picked this book. In fact, I passed it over many times in viewing my audible selections.
This book is wonderful!! I usually go for thrillers, but I have to say that after this book, I will expand my horizons. The ending was beautiful. The narration was excellent!!! 5 stars to you Jess Walter!!
Definitely recommended. The story is compelling, and the characters are people to care about.
Pasquale Tursi's sweetness was the best part for me. I get very tired of revolting characters; Pasquale is the opposite, a person to love.
Pasquale and Dee in the abandoned gun turret was a scene so beautifully rendered that I felt I was there with them, seeing sunlight hit the paintings on the wall.
I stayed glued to the book, emotions shifting, but never in a violent way.
The story and the narrator meld together to provide an unforgettable experience for the listener. I'll wait a while, then listen to this one again . . . and again.
I am not much for telling you what story's are about, but more of how I felt during listening to them. I felt content with this very good story and I recommend it to all. Is is very well narrated and really worth the time spent.
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.
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