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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Ella on 11-25-12
My mind wandered
I know this won’t be a popular review but I have to be honest. I picked this one up because of the endless five star ratings. Unfortunately I cannot join that club. I found the book choppy and the characters shallow. I didn’t connect emotionally to any of them, not even Pasquale and Dee Moray. Sure there were parts that I enjoyed, especially the scenes in 1962 Italy. The descriptions of Porto Vergogna were enchanting. It was the change to the present day Hollywood storyline that I found rather dull. Even the addition of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor didn’t manage to light my fire. I found my mind wondering often and that’s never a good sign. Too many characters, too many storylines, none of which were terribly compelling. I did force myself to finish the book, but it was a chore. I guess it wasn’t my cup of tea.
Edoardo Ballerini did a good job narrating. His knowledge of Italian added authenticity to Pasquale and helped bring me into the beautiful setting.
237 of 256 people found this review helpful
By Cindy on 07-12-12
Best Mistake I Ever Made On Audible...
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I have listened to over 550 books, some more than once. I can spend hours searching for the best books worthy of my cherished credits. Then, two nights ago, when I opened the home page to shop, Beautiful Ruins was one of the featured books, however I actually thought I had clicked the book next to it. As I said, BEST mistake I've ever made. Soo much detail and development. I never knew I could love a book where all the characters seem so flawed. Needless to say, no hours spent shopping for use of my next credit... another Jess Walter book. Then I'll shop Edoardo Ballerini books! You should too!
232 of 251 people found this review helpful