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
I lead a busy lifestyle and audio books allow me to listen and complete other tasks at the same time.
The last 30 minutes were unnecessary details about minor characters and events. They just didn't fit in with the main story. The real ending happens before that...so why the blah, blah, blah at the end?
These unconnected 'details' were like trying to understand the thought process of an ADD child...Can I have a cookie?...look butterfly!...Why is the sky blue?...There's a squirrel...I hate Social studies....Is it time for dinner?...
This garbage at the end takes away from the story.
When Pasquali ends up being herding into the lines for 'extras' in the movie.
Some humorous lines interspersed within the story.
Seemed slow to start.
Pasquale brought honesty and purpose to the ruthless Film industry.
No...it finished with a definitive beauty and needed no follow-up although the option is there.
With Richard Burton Diaries out for the Christmas season, Beautiful Ruins as fiction could be an adjunct.
A great narrator is only as good as the words he has to read and frankly this is not interesting. The story jumps around so much that you have to go back after not listening for a few days to remind yourself what was happening. I am forcing myself to finish it hoping for a change of heart. If I had it to do again, I would NOT waste my credit.
Most probably not
Ha Ha Ha.....what character would I not.
I wanted a good story. I don't mind heartbreak or egotistical one dimensional characters but they have to be a part of a good story. This one is not.
educator and technologist
I loved all the diverse characters and how each life somehow was entangled with others. The narrator did a great job especially with Pascal. I loved being transported to Italy and all the complexity. At first, I wasn't sure I'd selected well but as the story weaves through time and place I could not push stop.
I might if other titles have such good character building.
I was very disappointed in the ending. Did they make it to the bunker? Were the paintings still there? Did Pat stay in Idaho? Much was answered but too many things remain.
I was not so sure about this one, but decided to follow the recommendations and go ahead and use up a credit. I'm so glad I did, mostly because Eduardo Ballerini did such a great job as reader. He brought this world to life in such a vivid way and made the characters have such depth. I might have struggled to get into this book if I read it myself, but with Ballerini leading the way I loved the story and was sorry when it ended. Now I'm on a mission to listen to more books he reads.
Yes, this was a beautifully written novel. I did find myself enjoying some of the characters deeply. On the other hand, Richard Burton and the Hollywood hangers-on left me completely flat. Edoardo Ballerini as narrator was the highlight.
Author Jess Walter has a gift for intertwining disparate characters in different decades and different continents, but unless the next novel is free of household names (behaving badly), I won't be back.
The review of this book made it sound captivating but I found myself rushing to the end because I wanted to be freed up to start a new book. I guess I was just too cheap to abandon it all together.
A fiction loosely based on some real characters and events, this was an interesting book. I like a book that inspires me to learn by looking up the actual characters, places and event. The author did a lot of research.
I wasn't sure what to expect. I pretty much went off Audible's recommendation and was very pleased with the work.
Sometimes his voices seemed to bleed over into different characters but it was very subtle.
I don't think there was a time when listening that I wanted to turn it off. On the other hand nearly all of my listening is done in 20 to 30 minutes pieces as I travel between work and home. That time has always passed quickly, however.
While I have not read the print version, I enjoyed the audio and enjoyed the reader.
My favorite character was the Innkeeper. Learing about a different era in a different country was extremely insteresting and fascinating. I imagined myself in his little town in Italy, in his little hotel on the seaside. I felt like I was sitting on the veranda myself.
I would love to ask him if it at all base on a true story. I loved how he developed the characters and went back and forth from the 1970's to present day. So many of his details seem like it has to be based on actual facts. If not, he is amazing. Either way, he is amazing. Loved the book!
The tennis court that could not be built.
I especially loved the ailing mother and the dynamics between mother and son - so different in Italy than America.
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