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Beautiful Ruins | [Jess Walter]

Beautiful Ruins

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential - Jess Walter’s beautiful and shimmering novel was our editors’ pick for Best Book of 2012, so it was an obvious contender as a new Essential. But Essentials can’t simply be flash-in the pan momentary book crushes, the books on this list have to have legs, and we think that Beautiful Ruins certainly qualifies. Sweeping in scope and breadth, the message within this book runs deep and across generations. And Edoardo Ballerini’s magnificent and elegant narration bestows a level of believability and immediacy to the epic themes at play here. —Emily

Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (7212 )
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3.9 (6251 )
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4.3 (6266 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Doug Moore EAST ELLIJAY, GA, United States 10-05-12
    Doug Moore EAST ELLIJAY, GA, United States 10-05-12 Member Since 2015
    ratings
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    30
    3
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    Story
    "Masterpiece of Beautiful Story Telling.."
    Any additional comments?

    Loved This Book. Loved how all the stories are woven together. I Laughed and I Cried!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia 10-05-12
    Cynthia 10-05-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
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    128
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    "An Original Fabulous Story"

    I loved, loved, loved this story - for several reasons. The character development. The narrator - fabulous narrator, makes me want to learn Italian and go to this quaint little village in Italy (although I believe it's fictional and doesn't exist). The characters - each with a great story. The surprises - characters and back stories were brought in that I was not expecting.
    No murders (well sorta - read it and you will see what I mean). No violence (other than that one time but. . . . ). No sex. NOT ONE cuss word. (How refreshing - not that I couldn't watch my language a lot more!) No politics. A story that didn't relay on any of those things or gimmicks. A love story. A story about family. Lost love. Hollywood. Italy.
    I don't really know what I was expecting but not something of this caliber. It's a story you want to to not stop listening to yet you don't want it to end. It's one of those stories where you feel personally involved with all the characters and it's a story that stays with you.
    The narrator is superb. Because of him, and the story, this is one I know i will listen to again some day. The story is so pleasant and enjoyable. It was what I was looking for because I'd grown very tired of all the murders and gratuitous violence and sex. Usually I like a good murder mystery with a some sex, I'm not a prude, but I was just tired of bullets through the eye, back of the head blown off, detailed sexual encounters, you get my drift.
    Read it before Hollywood ruins it with a movie cause you know they will make a movie out of it. It's that kind of great story.
    It's never dull and has you waiting for what happens next.
    Listen to it. I think you will love it. Now I have to buy it in hardcover because it's one I want on my bookshelf too!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    gotmojos books media Spokane, WA 10-05-12
    gotmojos books media Spokane, WA 10-05-12 Member Since 2015

    got2mojos

    ratings
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    6
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    Story
    "Walter's best yet"

    I haven't been a fan of Jess Walter's sarcastic, too-clever writing style, but after reading reviews I gave this a try. Definitely his best work yet! Fascinating characters and storyline, and Walters uses the alternating past-present storyline to good effect.

    The narrator does a fine job with one really irritating exception: toward the end of the book he mispronounces almost EVERY place name in the author's own home town (and mine). Really?!! Couldn't someone have consulted the author or checked this, seeing as its where the whole story comes together?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph Australia 10-05-12
    Joseph Australia 10-05-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "A Love Story"

    At least that’s how Jess Walter’s character Michael Dean would describe this novel. But he describes every story as a ‘love story’. For me, Beautiful Ruins is a story I really loved. In fact it is a novel filled with stories. Even stories about stories.

    This is not a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat the way a crime novel might. But it contains mystery and fascinating characters and wonderful locations and fabulous writing; all of which made this a ‘driveway’ Audible book for me (even when I’ve arrived home, I sit in my car in the driveway and keep listening).

    Edoardo Ballerini is favoloso! His narration completely disappears, leaving only the characters in your mind, without any lingering traces of an actor reading.

    The book is funny, sad, philosophical and simply wonderful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kay Flagstaff, AZ, United States 10-04-12
    Kay Flagstaff, AZ, United States 10-04-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Incredible narration"

    This is a clever and very intertaining bit of slightly historical fiction. Edoardo Ballerini's brilliant voice interpretation of the full range of characters is as entertaining as the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ungar Budapest, Hungary 10-04-12
    Ungar Budapest, Hungary 10-04-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Regret having bought it."
    What would have made Beautiful Ruins better?

    More action, more excitement, more surprise, at least one (but preferably more) really original, out of the ordinary character.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Jess Walter again?

    Unlikely.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    There was no such scene.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Beautiful Ruins?

    Found all the scenes boring, so it is hard to pick any.


    Any additional comments?

    Only bought it because the success of the book was compared to that of The Help. It beats me how those two books - Beautiful Ruins being so boring, The Help being so exciting - could be equally successful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan San Dimas, CA, United States 10-04-12
    Susan San Dimas, CA, United States 10-04-12 Member Since 2010

    I'm going from chapter to chapter in life. Some are definitely better than others!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful Ruins"
    What did you love best about Beautiful Ruins?

    I thoroughly enjoyed how the author wove the different characters and their stories together through out the the book.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Beautiful Ruins?

    The ending of the story. Weaving together all the various characters and their stories was very well done, and an excellent way to conclude Beautiful Ruins.


    What about Edoardo Ballerini’s performance did you like?

    A better way to word this question would be...What about Edoardo Ballerini's performance DIDN'T I like? Ballerini did a fantastic job.


    If you could take any character from Beautiful Ruins out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    An evening with Dee and Pascalli would be delightful.


    Any additional comments?

    Beautiful Ruins was a wonderful book to listen to. Edoardo Ballerini did a fantastic job narrating the book. I was sorry to have the story end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet 10-04-12
    Janet 10-04-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Too many story lines ruined this book"

    The books description failed to mention all the other story llinjes and "ruined" individuals that the book addressed. It was hard to follow. the book I beleived would have been better if it focused on Dee's character and her realtionships.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hallie Lake Forest, IL, United States 10-03-12
    Hallie Lake Forest, IL, United States 10-03-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Fabulous"
    If you could sum up Beautiful Ruins in three words, what would they be?

    Engaging, Thoughful, Creative


    What does Edoardo Ballerini bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The characters voices are done so nicely by Edoardo. You feel like you are actually present when he is reading.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Minnetonka, MN, United States 10-03-12
    Kathy Minnetonka, MN, United States 10-03-12 Member Since 2010

    Avid Audiobook listener. Mostly like historical fiction or contemporary mystery/suspense.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Complex story with good characters!"

    I was surprised how much I liked this book and thought it was going to be some “Chic Lit” type book. It’s a much deeper and complex story than I expected with some wit and humor. I love how the connections of the characters develop and it was a fast pace book so I didn’t feel like the story was dragging on and on. The narrator was excellent (however at times some of his characters sounded like Alec Baldwin which was a tiny bit distracting).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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