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 book can be classified as an 'easy read' because it does not have a complex plot or a good plot for that matter. It is a bit boring to even listen to.
Intriguing, romantic, historical
Dee, the failed actress who missed hollywood fame by a slip of fate and goes on with stoicism
Loved this listen
Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.
I am in awe of Jess Walter and his writing talent. In Beautiful Ruins he takes numerous disparate characters and stories and manages to tie them together perfectly in a book that I was sorry to see end. I resisted reading this book for a long time, sure that it couldn't live up to the hype. I finally gave in, sure that I wouldn't like it, but I was amazed at Walter's ability to make me care about nine characters over five decades and two continents in situations both ludicrous and serious. This book includes a dying Hollywood starlet, an Italian who runs the Hotel Adequate View, a book (chapter) within the book, an over-the-top Hollywood producer along with excerpts from his self-help book, his cynical assistant who has seen too much of the worst of Hollywood, Richard Burton, and the infamous pitch for the movie Donner!, all written perfectly, with incredible observance, detail, and depth, and with enough humor to make you laugh out loud.
Edoardo Ballerini is the perfect narrator for this book. He brings the many characters to life and his wonderful voice and Italian pronunciation make this excellent book even better.
Beautiful Ruins is entertaining, but not lightweight or frivolous. I think it's mainly about fame/infamy, finding meaning in a world of junk culture, love, and loss. I feel lucky that I've never read anything by this author and can look forward to reading much more from the brilliant mind of Jess Walter.
It's an easy listen, but that's all it is. Not sure why it is being compared so favourably with The Help because they are leagues apart in creativity and style.
I've listened to several books performed by Ballerini. He has a great voice and good inflection - but some of his accents are horrible. I think if an actor can't give an adequate rendition of an accent it would be better if they just didn't bother; then we could have been spared Ballerini's attempts at various British accents - all of which were painfully bad.
It's an easy, enjoyable listen, but if you're looking for something of the quality of The Help look somewhere else.
I could not finish this book. While listening I kept asking myself how this book could have received so many rave reviews. I wanted to give it a SCATHING review and go on and on about how poorly written it was. Then, it finally hit me. At the risk of seeming elitist, I realized that it's all a matter of taste. People have different tastes in music, movies, food and literature. So if your taste in books runs to the "junk food" variety, you'll probably love this one.
The start was good but went downhill fast. Didn't finish it.
He was fine
Would have stuck to the start. Modern characters stunk.
Yes. Edoardo does an excellent job handling the different characters.
Pasquale Tursi. His was the one character who had honor.
I downloaded this book after reading a review about it in the NY Times. It would not have been one I would have normally read or listened to. The narrator really did a great job making the story come alive. His fluency in Italian was a big plus.
Wife, mother, working girl, and book addict! Love a good fiction, series, romance, sci-fi, or mystery thriller!
This book was a bit of a let down. The characters were varied and interesting and I loved getting to see them develop through the twenty year span of the book. I loved the intertwining of the stories but was left unfulfilled at the conclusion.
Impossible to listen for an Italian speaker, it's read half in italian half in English, the italian fishers speak an improbable english. Awful
Mother of teenaged bear, Wife to chaos, Warrior
I would give this a two, it wasn't a terrible book. it just wasn't for me. I followed the hype, and I should of listened to my head.
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