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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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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    4,045
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    3,575
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    1,847
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Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Good entertaining book

Would you try another book from Jess Walter and/or Edoardo Ballerini?

Yes I might.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Most interesting was traveling back into post war Italy. Least interesting was suffering through the crass American characters and all the Hollywood lingo.

Which scene was your favorite?

Favorite scenes: the conflicts with the local mobster.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Probably not. A movie can never do justice to a book. It's just not possible and always a disappointment.

Any additional comments?

I find this book is over hyped. Yes it has hundreds of very high ratings but I suspect it's mostly from a female audience. If this book was made into a movie it would called a "chick flick". I've listened to dozens of books and this doesn't rate among my favorites but yes I did enjoy it.

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  • Monica
  • SAINT LOUIS, MO, United States
  • 12-05-12

Great combo of writing and narration

What did you love best about Beautiful Ruins?

It was beautifully written and the narration was among the best. Ballerini is skillful at moving between different voices and accents in a way that brings the individual characters alive.

What did you like best about this story?

I really enjoyed all of the different story lines that converged at the end. It had humor, sadness, conflict, and resolution. A very satisfying read....or listen!

Have you listened to any of Edoardo Ballerini’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

n/a

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Clever and Enjoyable

I Loved this book!! I would recommend it to anyone. The narrator is fantastic too. Great Italian:)

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  • Garrietta
  • Clayton, NC, United States
  • 12-03-12

Pointless

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I couldn't wait for it to end.

What could Jess Walter have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

All the characters were a mess and the bad language did not add a thing to the book.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

I don't have an opinion on the narration.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

no

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Truly beautiful!

What did you love best about Beautiful Ruins?

This was a story that made me laugh and cry while constantly admiring the talent of the writer and the amazing performance of Edoardo Ballerini. I have never seen an author so skillfully switch between past and present finding clever ways to fill in the missing pieces and having it all make sense.

Any additional comments?

I knew nothing about this book when I chose it by the positive reviews. It was one of the best books I have heard in a long time!

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  • Story

wonderfully woven

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. This book kept me engaged. I like a story that is cleverly organized. This is one of those stories, weaving from present time to earlier times in the lives of the characters. Really nicely crafted.

What did you like best about this story?

The book also gives a little insight into how Hollywood runs, now and in decades past. Interesting.

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I don't get it

What did you like best about Beautiful Ruins? What did you like least?

I can't figure out why people like this book so much. The story was meh, the characters were meh... I just don't get it. I finished it but I think that was just because I was trying to figure out what the hype was about. I think I might prefer more character development. With the story switching around as it did I really didn't care much about any of the characters and their stories. The narrator was good though.

Would you be willing to try another book from Jess Walter? Why or why not?

probably not

What about Edoardo Ballerini’s performance did you like?

He did a good job keeping the characters distinct and he seemed to have read the book before he narrated it (pet peeve of mine when they don't)

Did Beautiful Ruins inspire you to do anything?

not so much

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A Beautiful Listen

Beautiful Ruins is an engaging story capturing ruined lives, ruined stories, and ruined possibilities. From the opening chapter where a beautiful blonde arrives at a small Italian fishing village, to the final chapter where stories are nicely resolved, the narration is beautiful and engaging. The characters are rich and interesting, including both fictional and historical characters. (RIchard Burton is hillarious.) The braided stories make for an interesting pathway through the novel and although some stories are less compelling than others (always a danger with this style), the author returns often enough to the story of Pasquale merit a high rating. Reading this book is a little like taking a vacation, first to Italy and then to Hollywood.

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Surprisingly good

I chose to listen to this due to other reviews that suggested it. I was glad I did. A sweet and well written/told story that warmed my heart!

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  • Stevon
  • Tempe, AZ, United States
  • 12-01-12

a good creative, imaginative story

A first time author for me, I believe I found this book when audible suggests other books you might like based on the books you've read. Very creative and imaginative, it is really well written. Set in 1962 Italy during the filming of Cleopatra and present day Italy, LA, London, Edinburgh, Portland, Seattle, and Idaho, it tells the stories of several lives intertwined with these backdrops. This is a good story and I recommend it. I really enjoyed it.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful