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 enjoyed listening to this book and would recommend it to just about anyone. Already have as a matter of fact. The story is a little convoluted but I love the characters. The female lead is an example to all of us in her selflessness and positive outlook.
What a great find! I had no previous knowledge of the author or this book and bought it solely based on the description. The storyline interweaves "real" characters with fictional and really brought them to life. Edoardo Ballerini's narration was perfection- If I were an author I would insist on having him read all my books! This is THE book I will recommend to anyone who wants to try Audible.
I'm not sure if I liked it or not. I know better than to go for 'highbrow' books and I hate stories about Hollywood people, yet parts of this stayed with me. The scenes are vivid and the characters almost too real. However, it is not a book about Italy or antiquities.
Ballerini has such a smooth voice you can't help but laugh out loud when his dry humor hits you. Jess Walter is a wonderful story teller, his attention to detail is a little mind boggling, and although sometimes difficult to keep up with the names of so many characters, it adds to the enticement. Each Character is given a chapter and rotated so you can't help but miss them as you go away from the initial scene to yet another person's life. It is like having a invisibility cloak and wings, you are the spy on the wall and you thirst for more. I listened to it twice it was THAT good.
A lovely American actress has been played and manipulated in the game of life in Hollywood. Bring tissues and your funny bone. I laughed out loud while listening to it in the Deer hunting blind.
Forget the Characters. I want to buy Ballerini a drink and listen to his voice all night long.
Stick to it, bring tissues, you will cry.
Beautiful Ruins always had my attention. I was never bored.
I loved how each chapter took me to a different place and time or even a different book or play. You never knew where you would be next and that kept it exciting.
Absolutely loved the reader. Great job.
Now I understand why Beautiful Ruins was rated so favorably and was so popular. I held off listening to this one since it sounded a melodramatic and improbable, but was swept along once I started to listen. The main characters are very endearing and other minor characters, including celebrities, are colorfully drawn. Some of its impact may be lost on readers not old enough to remember the perpetual presence of Liz and Dick on the front page of supermarket tabloids through most of the '60s. I would recommend Beautiul Ruins for no other reason that it is the rare book that pulls you up and down an emotional gamut - not the least of which are parts that are laugh-out-loud hilarious.
I'm just not a fan of forward and backward story telling. As soon as I developed interest in a story line, I was swept away to another time, place and character.. In this case, the attempt to "weave" the past and present stories of the various characters was overdone (in my opinion), I simply lost interest in the whole, and adjusted the narrator speed to 2.5x to get me through. I'm also not a fan of over-blown descriptives, vs actual plot. This had a lot of that as well. On the bright side, narration was expertly performed!
The plot was well constructed with lots of unexpected twists. But I'd have preferred to hear more about Italy and a lot less about Hollywood.
Most interesting - plot development. Least interesting - everything pertaining to Hollywood.
All characters were read in the same dull cadence - which contributed to my lack of interest in the story.
I felt like it jumped between to many characters and eras.
Confusion, and disappointment.
I feel like I would have to listen to this book again just to figure out all the details. But I don't want to listen to it again.
Again a book with layers and characters that were a little surprising. The description of the surroundings painted a picture in which the characters moved about creating the story. The humour shone through.
There were several moments which were not expected. To tell may spoil the story for a reader/listener.
The narrator brought the characters to life making them real expressing their personality traits and behaviours which again made me 'see' the players.
The Italian Innkeeper
The book was a little surprising for me, I didn't think it would be my type of book but it was and I'm very glad I took the opportunity of the thoroughly enjoyable experience.
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