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
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I really don't get all the fuzz about this book. It was said to be the best book since "The Help". Hah! No way! This book had nothing to stand up to "The Help" with. It was just boring, and long... I had to listen to it in double speed just to finish it as quickly as I could.
Nothing written by Jess Walter, that's for sure.
Edoardo Ballerini did a brilliant job narrating this book. He was a glimpse of light in a very boring book.
The obvious skill of the writer was wasted on this self-indulgent tale of lives wrecked by addiction and stupidity. After listening to hours of depressing, self-centered drivel (albeit artistically written), the ending suddenly brought everyone together and solved all their problems. The entire plot was based on shallow philosophies of life, and aimless, drifting behaviors bereft of meaning or any understanding of the world in which they were operating. Who was the reviewer who said this was the best story since "The Help"? How can anyone compare a tale of real human struggle to deal with racism, poverty and social class with this simpering, whining book about people commodifying, scewing, drinking and overdosing themselves through life?
There was way too much unnecessary backstory and whole sections that could have been cut out, i.e. the story would have been the same without them. I absolutely hated having to sit through one character's entire movie pitch as if it were the most fascinating thing in the world (it wasn't, and it wasn't necessary for the plot in any way), and the chapter from one character's memoir? Ugh! I found myself saying aloud "Who cares?" half the time and "Get on with it!"
Pasquale was the only one I ever cared about. I didn't really connect with any of the other characters, except maybe Claire a little but the fact that she would stay with her lame boyfriend who was horrible to her just because he was hot made me lose all interest in this character. Mostly this was fully of shallow, unappealing people who didn't really evolve or grow.
I would definitely cut the movie pitch and also the chapter from Michael Dean's memoir. I would majorly cut tons of back story from Pat and a lot from Dee as well. Back story is nice when it helps move the plot forward but most of this was telling us things we didn't NEED to know. For me, the movie pitch felt like the author was trying to show Hollywood what they missed out on, i.e. maybe he tried his hand there and things didn't work out, and it turns out that's kind of what happened. There's some lovely language here but I was too distracted by the loads of extraneous information to appreciate it.
The book started out beautifully which made me excited about what was to come -- it felt quite cinematic and I couldn't help but think about the great movie this would make -- but there were way too many sections that felt unessential in moving the story forward. Ultimately, I felt like I sat through tons of "filler." The story had interesting facets but I did not enjoy the way it was told or most of the characters and cannot recommend it. The ending was unsatisfying and the only moment that moved me in the entire book was when Pasquale was reunited with Dee -- not because I cared about her at all but because I cared about him. I never believe there was any sort of real connection between them though and could not have cared less about most of the other characters. Sorry if this is a harsh review but I was really frustrated from about 1/3 of the way through the book all the way to the end.
Story was boring -- didn't draw me in. I have never not finished a book, but I deleted it before it was 1/2 over. Disappointed!
keep tbe story moving in one direction keep names simple
hard to follow story
no i want to return it and buy another book
This is my granddaughter's picture! She is my love.
I wonder if this could be true? I don't know, but what if. A strange woman appears at a family hotel; very ill and kind of pretty. This story goes back and forth for 50 years, through the relationships and individuals, until the circle is complete. The story keeps you interested in following each character, both individually and as a group, through the years, until the end.
What a wonderful book - but pay attention only to appreciate the intricate weaving from beginning to the very end! I can only imagine what the author's notes/outlines must have looked like hanging on the wall.
I will be looking at more books by this author AND the performer -what a wonderful job by them both!
There are so many good books in the world to read, don't waste time on the crappy ones !
This is the best book I've listened to for quite some time. How I wish someone would make a DVD series. A movie would be too short to capture it all.
I fell in love with all the characters, I laughed and I cried. The way he wove the many character's stories together was brilliant! The narration was excellent! As soon as I finished the audio I ordered the book, I simply must have it in my library.
I would not have chosen this book from the blurb however was encouraged by the reviews and I was not disapointed. Highly recommended
Edoardo Ballerini does a great job of story teller.
If I had time, yes
This is my first book by the author, Jess Walter. It will not be my last. Beautiful Ruins is a good story. . I highly recommend this book
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