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
The story promised a ton of potential and started out extremely strong and captivating, but in my opinion was quite over-written, rambling when not needed, jumping in with sub-stories that distracted from the story, rather than added to it, and ultimately, towards the end, started to lose me completely. Was grateful that the end resolved a bit, although not with as great a satisfaction as I would have liked. This book could have benefitted from more editing prior to publication.
The very, very end, when the circle closed on two really great people.
Hmmmm.... as mentioned, this story had (has) a TON of potential, and maybe if the stub-stories were cut and the script revised as much as was done by Claire's version of the play in the book, and if less time was spent on Michael Dean's face and a ton less time on Shanes Donner!, then maybe yes!. And really? Richard Burton and Liz Taylor? Totally made the story unbelievable.
This audiobook was an average listen, story-wise.
Edoardo Ballerini's performance was vey nice, however.
Beautiful Ruins seemed to me to be so clearly written from a male perspective. Characters in the story could be observed, but there was very little to be learned from them. If the author did this intentionally, then he did an exceptional job. If this was not his intention, then there was an opportunity missed to reveal inner workings of some beautiful ruins -- human as we are.
I had just finished Les Miserables and needed a light story to refresh my brain after the heavy highly charged book. And this book was perfect! I enjoyed the setting of the story, loved the characters, the italian accent. I also liked the way it was written, leaving you wonder what's next for a little while. Nice, entertainig and refreshing.
I liked the ending and the philosophy of the story.
It was too long. It started out very slowly and it was confusing.
I loved the ending.
He was okay.
No. The story is over.
Wonderful love story!
The description of the paintings in the caves.
His fluent Italian and his spot on accent of an Italian speaking broken English.
This story was very entertaining and made even more so by the narrator!
A lovely story with interesting characters. The only negative was the amount of jumping around with multiple story threads. To me, this makes it difficult to invest in characters. Because of this, it took awhile to get going and into it.
The final chapter was a bit heavy handed, but wonderful and beautiful. You did kinda have to rack your brain to remember who was who and the audio version of the book made the delineation of some stories cloudy, but not to the point of anything overly negative.
The narrator was very good, with a few pronunciation issues, but overall was fantastic.
I do recommend. Especially great vacation book.
Lots of characters and tangled plotlines, well-performed by the narrator, but a story without charm. Also a little unbelievable that Richard Burton would not have investigated just what happened to the woman pregnant with his child. And that the woman would not tell the child of his heritage when he was such a loser and might have benefited with some "self-esteem" from having a famous father. While I read it to the end, to see how it turned out, it felt flat. The author says he fell in love with the Cinqueterre, but this version of the area feels impoverished and less ravishingly beautiful than that place is today. Surely even tho' the era depicted was the war and the 60's, the place still is smashingly gorgeous, and that gets downplayed. The "Hotel Adequate View" that is the scene of much of the action kind of says it all about this book: adequate, but limited view, and I did not like any of the characters very much. Some wise and lyrical passages here and there. Narrator did the Italian accents very well.
If the story would have some redeeming value. It was all about self absorbed people with horrible morals.
Wife, mom of one amazing son, and I have the second best job in the world, working in a bookstore :)
Absolutely!! Because it is one of those satisfying stories. The narration is the best!! I think something would of been lost if you just read the book, the narrator "made" the story so rich and alive.
I can't think of a similar book, but it would compare with any book you have read or listened to and were very satisfied. The story wraps up nicely, the characters very believable.
Pasquale. He was so genuine, and so wise for being just a 22 year old innkeeper.
My Italian Love?
It took me a couple tries to get into the story but once I did, I never looked back!!
I did not read the print version however, listening to the beautiful Itallian languge spoken and not read is certainly a plus. It makes the story more real.
The meeting of everyone at the cabin.
A very romantic story and a personal awakening.
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