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
Overall, the book had a surface level and shallow plot. The characters were well developed but the book in sum was uninspiring. It’s written somewhat well, but constantly infused with negativity, in order to play up the “ruins” part of the title. The author rarely turned that around into “beauty" though. It’s also rather crude and, towards the end, a bit random at times. I wouldn’t recommend it.
Grabbed my heart.
It stands alone.
I loved his ability to sound different with every character. His accents were also spot on. He gave the listen it's enjoyment.
Paoquale. He seemed so sweet and caring.
It had more than romance. It also gave you vivid pictures of that part of Italy.
The melodramatic ending! Liked the beginning...and the descriptions of people were priceless, especially of the producer with his weird face, and the "milk fed veal". But overall, it was sort of predictable.
A delightful story full of characters who touch each other without much harm, despair, or regrets. A wonderful surprise.
Pasquale (the Italian guy) is my absolute favorite character. He has humor and heart and held my interest the most. The historical characters seemed to have more depth than those in the current time period, which were slightly stereotypical, although they also had their own truth about them. And the they did gain more layers as the story progressed.
Amazing. Wonderful. Fabulous.
He did a great job of giving each character its own voice, and he handled the American and Italian accents with ease.
I thought this was a lovely book, although it got off to a slow start. It's told in two different time periods, and when the story line is split, both need to be set up before anything can really happen. What kept me going at the beginning was the wonderful narration by Edoardo Ballerini -- he was fabulous!
Although it started slow, it wasn't boring...it was kind of like a languorous walk on the beach, enjoyable but not getting anywhere fast. This isn't a high action book, but more begins to happen and the story unfolds in the second half of the book. I stopped about 30% of the way through and picked up another book. A week later, I started where I left off, and it captivated me and held my attention.
I recommend this book. Although beware, there are times when the language can get a little "rough". There are also some sexual situations, but they are brief and not very descriptive.
Someone who doesn't know how Irish, Scottish and English accents should sound.
He read it beautifully until the British and Irish accents became part of it.
Sorry to the reader for this critique. It was, otherwise, beautifully read.
This is a good book! Engaging and has a nice pace..I really enjoyed listening.But I've seen reviews comparing Beautiful Ruins to The Help, and I just don't see that. I think this book is good in it's own way, but in my opinion, if I had bought it thinking it would be comparable to The Help, I would have been disappointed.
I think that would be a tough expectation for any book to live up to.
I was able to predict many (not all) of the 'reveals', but that didn't ruin the experience for me.
This was my first Edoardo Ballerini-listen. He was fantastic!
best T. Coraghessan Boyle book ever written :-) No seriously amazing! This book is not only for women, although I see it in book stores in the "for Women sections". This is one of the best books I've read period! Excellent narration Mr Ballerini
I gave this book four stars out of five because its ambitions--covering so many lives through so much time--sometimes gets in its own way. But don't let that stop you from listening--a truly charming love story that has an upbeat, everyone wins trajectory with enough introspection and perspective to keep eyes from cynically rolling. Very well done indeed...
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