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 found this selection difficult to follow and uncomfortably jumpy in time and space. Narration was good. I just didn't care about the characters and the Hollywood dialogue was, to me, rather boring and repetitive. I tried to reread sections, as since I knew my mind was wandering I assumed I had just missed too much, but the re-listening was not satisfactory. After listening to about 3/4 of the novel, I decided there were too many other audibles that I was eager to listen to so I deleted this from my iTunes.
Easy to listen and captivating, the story switches between post-war Italy and nowadays Hollywood and follows the intertwined lives of an Italian hotel keeper, an American actress and the man who made a living manipulating with people's lives.
I read it amidst a harsh cold winter but can just imagine laying out in the sun on some beautiful beach, listening to this wonderful tale and hearing the ocean waves splash in the background.
Yes. It was not fantastic but still pretty entertaining.
Yes, but would not be on the top of my list
Histrionic, stereotypical, uninspired
I did not dislike this book but I did not love it either. The book started of pretty well but what could have being a great story turn in to some pretty plane and sometimes borings sections.
COMPELLING, FUN, READABLE
not in my wheel house but something about the review caused me to buy it and I am so very glad I did. Going back to get Jess Walter's other books.
At the end.....when the two main characters are together....do not want to reveal too much!
Oh the title is so perfect......so perfect cannot change it
Yes I am a avid reader, 55 years old a mother and a grandmother....and an elected official.
This is a delightful tale that is beautifully written. I would recommend this book (and have) to anyone looking for an escape into a delightful world of well defined characters that have both poignant and amusing stories.
Unknown. I haven't read the book, just have the audio version.
When Pasquil (unsure of spelling) chose to do what he thought was the "right thing" and did not tell Dee Moore how he felt about her.
The way he changed his voice for each character.
The author effortlessly inter-twines different time periods, taking the listener on a wonderful journey from 1962 through present day. Along the way, we get to intimately learn about each character. The author's wonderful way with words makes it easy and enjoyable for the listener to get a sense of the people, places and situations in the various story lines in the book.
Toronto, Canada. Audible enthusiast since 2001.
This book seems sweetly nostalgic through most of the telling, even when the memories aren't that positive. We are drawn into a sleepy Italian seaside town that becomes not-sleepy for awhile. The characters are well drawn, and well acted by the narrator. The interwoven stories are complete enough not to be confusing, and compelling on their own, but even more compelling when they all converge near the end. The plot didn't race from moment to moment, making me crave the story like a drug. Instead, the story was more like a really good gourmet meal, with new pleasures arriving with each course, and dessert at the end. In style, it reminded me of the Three Junes, a book I also enjoyed very much.
I loved the story line, up to the end. The reader really made it first class with the voices, accents and languages. The way the ends tied together at the closing were a little Dickensonian for me - too tidy for real life, but the rest drew me in.
Fantastic! Wow, can Jess Walter write! He describes this book perfectly when referring to it as a "braid" of stories. I am not always a fan of books with many characters and subplots, but Walters made me care about all of them, especially Dee/ Deborah and Pasquale. The other characters, while not as "likable," we're just as compelling in the confusion of their lives.
And, the narration was such a pleasure to listen to. So many voices, so many accents, all done very well. I look forward to hearing more from this narrator.
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