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
This story line was good but it seemed, to me, to have too many characters. At times I got a bit confused. Also, a bit too much information about sub (and sub - sub) characters especially the last chapter.
But the narrator did a great job with all these voices. I really liked his voice.
One thing I was curious about and did not get in the audio was this: How can you use the name of someone like Richard Burton, was this a true story? If yes or no it would have been nice to at least mention it.
Still, all in all, this was an enjoyable listen.
In the top 3
The settings, vivid characters, and plot. Wonderful story.
His command of the Italian language. Fluid reading.
Great book. Fantastic characters that intertwined. This book is well written and the character development keeps the reader engaged and wanting more.
This is my favourite book, so far. There are so many characters and I love 'character' books and movies.
I can't think of another book which compares to this, as it is such a unique approach to a "character" book. The story is just so atypical.
I liked Shane's pitch, as it was a story within the story and I loved their all meeting at Debra's, 50 years later.
Pasquale is such an honourable man; a loving, true-to-himself soul.
My friend is a voracious reader and likely reads 10 books to my one, so she is well-versed in good literature. This is the only book I have ever dared to recommend, nay, insist that she read.
Yes, the underlying themes are mature, about accepting responsibility for your actions, making the right but not always easy choices, and living the life you have. There is a long list of characters who are all struggling with these issues in different ways. Add the rich language, the sympathetic treatment of the characters, and the generally upbeat end, and you have a book that is worth re-reading. The narrator was excellent too!
I liked Dee, who did her best with some pretty hard knocks in her life. Of course, I liked Pasquale too, a decent man, caught up in events that took him over. He struggled to find his way, but once that became clear, did the right thing, though it was very very hard.
Rich, woven, & beautiful.
I just loved the weave of story lines and the the character developement. I just couldn't stop thinking about what would happen next when I wasn't listening. I also loved the wit in the story...there's nothing better than a chuckle in the middle of drama to break the tension for a minute. LOVED IT!!
yes, It was not a "must read" but it was worth the time spent listening
The italian inn keeper
I would watch it on TV
I think the writer did a good job helping the reader to invision the characters.
The narrator was good as well.
He kept the interest going when the story line fell a little flat at times.
Let me start by saying that I am an avid audiobook listener. I'm a little embarrassed by the number of books in my library. Having said that, Beautiful Ruins is among the very best of them. I fell in love with the characters and was transported by the scenery. I found myself rationing the last few chapters of the book - I didn't want it to end. Happily, the ending was as special as the rest of the book. Listen to it! Then listen again.
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