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 enjoyed this audio book from its inception and until the very end, which I felt was beautifully accomplished. The novel plays back and forth over time and two continents as we meet the believable characters involved in this somewhat involved story of love, failure, success, life and its choices and ultimately making the right choices. I cannot recommend it enough and will look for other work by the author and the narrator as well.
I rarely take time to write reviews but this book was so well written and so entertaining that I had to. I enjoyed this audiobook more than any other audiobook I've listened to. The story was captivating. The characters were compelling and the narrator did an absolutely amazing job with his performance. I could listen to his voice all day long!
No one else. Mr. Ballerini did all he could to handle this exhaustive narrative
The best thing I can say about this audio book is that the narrator was phenomenal! I loved the concept of the story and the characters, however, I felt that the profanity and crassness took away from the potential beauty of the novel. Yes, that made it more realistic when portraying the characters, but I think that there are ways to do that without cheapening the literary quality with cussing and crudeness. I also found much of the character development to be long and drawn out with insignificant details to the point that I would get bored waiting until it got to the meat of the story.
Everything...from the beginning to the end. Each character was so immaculately sculptured. Listened twice and both times it took my breath away. My favorite line..."what took you so long?" and the response.
Jess Walter left no detail unanswered. All loose ends were tied together.
All of them. I will search for Mr. Ballerini's other works. His characters were amazing
This was an emotional journey i gladly took again.
The novel was well-written and the narrator was awesome. I loved the way everything was intertwined. Even though there was a lot of skipping around from the present to past, it was surprisingly easy to follow.
I'd love to go to Italy, so yes, I suppose so.
Yes, I fell in love with all the characters and with Italy. The character development was key, just the right amount of it. The back and forth from past to present made the story more intriguing and truly held my interest. Had the story been told from the beginning to end chronologically, I don't think it would have had the same effect. Loved everything about and surrounding "Front Man."
Nothing. I adored Edoardo Ballerini's performance greatly.
Endearing, witty, touching
The way the author created the different plot lines and brought them together in the end was wonderful. The author has a great sense of humor, too. One of the characters is a young screenwriter whose dream is to write a script for an epic film about the Donner party, which he decides to title "Donner!"
The narration was among the best I've heard. Distinct voices for each character, but not overacted. He brought the endearing, sometimes maddening, characters to life and enhanced the emotional impact of the story.
This is a beautifully written book that tells the story of how brief encounters can affect peoples' lives for the better and sometimes; for the worse. The narrator is so skillful, that he sometimes gives the imperssion that I was listening to poetry. I enjoyed this book and only questioned one thing. I found it hard to believe that a sexually active adult female, would not suspect that she was pregnant. And, yet, she took the word of a doctor who only gave her a routine examination and diagnosed she had cancer. (Kind of a stretch.) I also had the impression that the ending was rushed and the author could have avoided trying to tie all the knots together to ensure closure. Not so in the real world.
In my mind it was in CinemaScope and somehow could/should have been grander, but still a nice listen.
You learn the stories of each character and then they are so interwoven, so as to tie it all together.
I loved how the characters grew and changed as they became self aware.
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