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Beautiful Ruins | [Jess Walter]

Beautiful Ruins

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.
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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

3.9 (5734 )
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4.3 (4962 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Pokemonika Stowe, VT 11-05-12
    Pokemonika Stowe, VT 11-05-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    19
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    "Great history, amazing performance"

    I love the way the writer submerges you on all this different places and times with very well thought characters and scenarios.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Connie St. Petersburg, FL, United States 11-05-12
    Connie St. Petersburg, FL, United States 11-05-12 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyable on so many levels!"

    A family saga with an edgy twist! Clearly Mr. Walter is sharing from personal experiences and emotions. In this the lives and emotions of the characters ring true.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judy United States 11-04-12
    Judy United States 11-04-12 Member Since 2011
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    "All Around Good Read"

    This story was absorbing and entertaining without the need for foul language and violence. Very refreshing! This is an old fashion tale of love lost and found set in Italy and the US spanning many years. Wonderful book! A must read for people who enjoyed The Help and The Secret LIfe of Bees.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marion Cicero, NY, United States 11-02-12
    Marion Cicero, NY, United States 11-02-12 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    25
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Trouble at first"
    If you could sum up Beautiful Ruins in three words, what would they be?

    Interesting, entertaining, different


    What about Edoardo Ballerini’s performance did you like?

    The versatility of his character changes. Every character is so different, and he made every one of them stand out.


    If you could rename Beautiful Ruins, what would you call it?

    Italian get away, but I wouldn't rename it.


    Any additional comments?

    I struggled with this book at first and was 1/3 the way through before I realized I really liked it. interesting through out, definitely keep reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rita Waycross, GA, United States 11-02-12
    Rita Waycross, GA, United States 11-02-12
    ratings
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    "WOW! One of the best!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    One of the best books I've read in a long time. So Thought Provoking!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Pat He teaches us contintment.


    Which character – as performed by Edoardo Ballerini – was your favorite?

    Bender


    If you could rename Beautiful Ruins, what would you call it?

    Smile of Heaven


    Any additional comments?

    Read this book everyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martha Longmont, CO, United States 11-01-12
    Martha Longmont, CO, United States 11-01-12 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    39
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Epic story spanning many generations"
    What did you love best about Beautiful Ruins?

    I loved the character development and intermingling plot lines.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Beautiful Ruins?

    When Pasquel and Dee came back together after a life time apart.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The Front Man play in Sandy Point, ID.. I felt as though I was there and I felt the emotions of the actors.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I definitely felt intense emotion.


    Any additional comments?

    I would recommend this book to those who enjoy a good love story set in so many ecitng venues.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Two Harbors, MN, United States 10-31-12
    Michael Two Harbors, MN, United States 10-31-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Lovely Experience"

    Well written story narrated by an excellent actor. I feel as if I watched this book instead of listening to it. I did feel the ending was awkward and a little cheap compared to the rest of the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim Arvada, CO, USA 10-31-12
    Tim Arvada, CO, USA 10-31-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
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    "Not as good as it was hyped. Not "The Help""
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    This is a love story. And a movie story. I think generally a female audience might appreciate this book.


    What could Jess Walter have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    I applaud Jess Walter, she is a fine author. For me the story was rather bleak.


    What aspect of Edoardo Ballerini’s performance would you have changed?

    I kept thinking that he sounded a lot like Scott Brick. He did a fine job of distinguishing characters.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I enjoyed hearing about the Cinque Terra and about some of the actual historical actors in the story.


    Any additional comments?

    The editors on Audible raved about this book and made it sound amazing. The story was only ok. I feel like it was a bait and switch. The hype made it a disappointment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Plainfield, VT, United States 10-30-12
    Rebecca Plainfield, VT, United States 10-30-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "More misery than beauty............"

    I feel ambivalent about this book. It was quite engaging in parts, and at times I felt transported to the little Italian village where it is set, but there are long sections that are not so much about "beauty" and are more about the "ruins" of love and relationships. I found it left me sad, with little reward as there were no great insights or meaningful reflections. In fact although i downloaded it as a "vacation read' I actually had to stop listening to it as I felt it was bringing my mood down and ruining my vacation. I did finish it on my return home, and the story does eventually all come together, but the main beauty for me, was when it ended...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Anderson New Orleans 10-30-12
    A. Anderson New Orleans 10-30-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    21
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    "Great Story"
    What did you love best about Beautiful Ruins?

    The intertwining of all the stories


    What about Edoardo Ballerini’s performance did you like?

    Everything. He was an excellent narrator


    If you could take any character from Beautiful Ruins out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Dee Mora -she seemed like she had the most depth to her


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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