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
A fiction loosely based on some real characters and events, this was an interesting book. I like a book that inspires me to learn by looking up the actual characters, places and event. The author did a lot of research.
Wife, Mother, 1965,
I selected this book because it was promoted as the next "The Help". Not even close! This book was not epic, it wasn't even great. A good read, maybe.
To be fair, it just was not my style. It is a bit raw and crude for my taste. I tend to find this in male writers.
The complexity of the plot and characters was average. The end was somewhat redeeming in that it resolved in a satisfying way, but not worth the journey. I don't regret the time spent but I will not recommend it and probably won't remember the story in time.
I wasn't sure what to expect. I pretty much went off Audible's recommendation and was very pleased with the work.
Sometimes his voices seemed to bleed over into different characters but it was very subtle.
I don't think there was a time when listening that I wanted to turn it off. On the other hand nearly all of my listening is done in 20 to 30 minutes pieces as I travel between work and home. That time has always passed quickly, however.
I am stunned at how many good reviews this book got, I struggled to listen to it (it took me three tries), and will now read reviews in more depth before picking my next books ( check what else the reviewer liked).
Just too slow for me for the first two thirds of the book, it did get better towards the end, but it was too late I had already lost the passion for the story.
While I have not read the print version, I enjoyed the audio and enjoyed the reader.
My favorite character was the Innkeeper. Learing about a different era in a different country was extremely insteresting and fascinating. I imagined myself in his little town in Italy, in his little hotel on the seaside. I felt like I was sitting on the veranda myself.
I would love to ask him if it at all base on a true story. I loved how he developed the characters and went back and forth from the 1970's to present day. So many of his details seem like it has to be based on actual facts. If not, he is amazing. Either way, he is amazing. Loved the book!
The tennis court that could not be built.
I especially loved the ailing mother and the dynamics between mother and son - so different in Italy than America.
Lacked depth of script. Characters were ok, but not exciting. would not listen too again.
Already listened to Gone Girl
Narrator was ok. Did characters fine. Just not plot to work with.
I would have enlightened reader about main characters reason for being in movie and
what she did after she found out about Drs. diagnosis. No real depth.
I found that the parts of the story that take place in Italy are very interesting, and these are the parts where the narrator EXCELS. However,all of the rest of the multiple directions the story takes are barely tolerable, and then after all of that, the ending is not very satisfying. Guess I had my hopes up too high from all of the GREAT reviews I read.
Although the book started out OK, about half way through listening became a chore. There weren't any characters I cared about.
I love to read both fiction and non-fiction, I love series books that build by adding more characters and am always sorry when they end.
The depth of feeling that the author explored the individuals, it was a wonderful story, and wonderfully narrated!
The one in the dug out where they admired the sketching on the wall under the different sunlight conditions!
A time in Italy
My first Jess Walter book - but will look for others! I picked it based on recommendations on Audible and was NOT disappointed at ALL!
I enjoyed the characters and the connection between characters. The way the story was presented and woven together was intriguing. I loved the dichotomy of old and new throughout.
In terms of structure, Beautiful Ruins reminded me of The Help and The Kitchen House. The overlapping of stories told from different perspectives. However, the story was distinctly unique.
I can't pick one scene that was my favorite but I loved the imagery that made up Italy.
The only downfall of Beautiful Ruins was the rushed ending. While I liked that everything was buttoned up, I didn't like that it felt like a list of what happens.
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