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Beautiful Ruins: A Novel by Jess Walter
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Beautiful Ruins: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Jess Walter

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2,0921583,161 (3.83)168
Member:DonnaFH
Title:Beautiful Ruins: A Novel
Authors:Jess Walter
Info:Harper (2012), Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

  1. 00
    The Pirate's Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Exotic backdrops -- Italy in Beautiful Ruins and Jamaica in The Pirate's Daughter -- combine with Hollywood glamor (and scandal) in these engaging historical novels, in which past events influence present-day situations. Both feature cameo appearances by real-life movie stars.… (more)
  2. 00
    The Rocks: A Novel by Peter Nichols (Anonymous user)
  3. 02
    A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Does what this book is trying to do; does it better.
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» See also 168 mentions

English (155)  Spanish (1)  All languages (156)
Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)
Since this book was on several "best of" lists, I was initially disappointed and thought it was going to be two stars. The more I read though, the more I liked it, and even considered four stars. It was enjoyable and a good solid three stars. I really liked the character of Pasquale. I also wondered about the title. Was "beautiful ruins" referring to the village? The cave? The life of the beautiful actress, Dee Moray? The relationship that waited 50 years to happen? Or maybe it was something else? ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
From the book's description:
"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."

This book is an Audie Award Nominee, Fiction and Best Solo Narration, 2013. RidgewayGirl had given it a lovely review a little while ago, which pushed it to the top of my TBR, and since it was on my iPod, to the top of my listening list. Edoardo Ballerini's wonderful Italian lent magic to the scenes that took place in 1962 Italy, and he was able to switch to an American accent for the current day scenes in Hollywood, Seattle and Idaho. There are intertwined stories that work beautifully. Even Richard Burton, Liz Taylor and the film Cleopatra play a role. (Ballerini's Richard Burton was terrific). It is full of colorful people. Part satire, part love story, it made me laugh and it made me care about a few of the characters.

Read June 2013 ( )
  NanaCC | Jul 26, 2015 |
Wonderful! Lots of threads of different stories and a story about stories. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
Pasquale lives in the small coastal town of Porto Vergogna. His family has lived there for generations and although Pasquale enjoys his life he wants more and is working on turning his family home into a hotel. One day, while contemplating his future tennis court he sees a young woman step off a fishing boat and start up the steps to the hotel. Certain she has come to the wrong hotel and wants to continue on down the coast to the larger hotels, he greets her and she assures him that she is indeed in the right place. She is meeting someone here. Dee Moray is an actress working on Cleopatra and she is ill. That’s all Pasquale knows about this beautiful stranger. He accepts that because after all, everyone has secrets. Fast forward 50 years to present day Hollywood, and Pasquale has finally come to find out what happened to Dee Moray oh so long ago. This is where the real story of that fateful summer begins.

The book flips back and forth between 1962 Italy and present day Hollywood. Combining what several different characters know about the events that summer gives the reader the whole story … complete with some behind the scenes looks at the filming of Cleopatra and cameo appearances by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. That’s the main story, but there is a large cast of characters on the fringes of the story (almost too large) and they all tell their stories as well (almost too many stories). Near the end of the book we learn how they are all interconnected, but it is a bit a long haul getting there. Not a bad read, but I have to admit to putting it down a few times in favour of something else and then going back to it as the mood struck.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
very fun read. Hollywood meets small Italian fishing village on Cinque Terra. Elizabeth Taylor ( )
  lindaspangler | Jun 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)
Ruins constitutes a departure for Walter, another unplowed field, and he harrows it straight and true, turning up the fertile humus of the culture’s soiled psyche. Beautiful Ruins collides its broad range of characters in unexpected, unique ways, and the wonderful light touch of the satire makes them eminently believable. Unlike the Juvenalian satirists, whose righteous indignation sometimes results in flat, two-dimensional, cardboard characterizations, Walter’s people inspire sympathy, belief, even a little self-examination. Am I like this? Do I have any qualities that resemble the ones I’m reading about here? If I do, where do I get help?

Jess Walter has written a novel that sprawls on the lawn, looks up fondly at the achingly blue American sky and gazes into the deep humor of our collective human condition. That’s what good satire does—it reminds us who we really are. Humans.
added by zhejw | editPaste, David Langness (Aug 7, 2012)
 
Walter is simply great on how we live now, and ­— in this particular book — on how we lived then and now, here and there. “Beautiful Ruins” is his Hollywood novel, his Italian novel and his Pacific Northwestern novel all braided into one: an epic romance, tragicomic, invented and reported (Walter knows his “Cleopatra” trivia), magical yet hard-boiled (think García Márquez meets Peter Biskind), with chapters that encompass not just Italy in the ’60s and present-day Hollywood, but also Seattle and Britain and Idaho, plot strands unfolding across the land mines of the last half-century — an American landscape of vice, addiction, loss and heartache, thwarted careers and broken dreams. It is also a novel about love: amorous love, filial love, parental love and the deep, sustaining love of true friendship....

His balanced mixture of pathos and comedy stirs the heart and amuses as it also rescues us from the all too human pain that is the motor of this complex and ever-evolving novel. Any reservations the reader might have about another book about Hollywood, about selling one’s soul (or someone else’s, and pocketing the change) will probably be swept aside by this high-wire feat of bravura storytelling. Walter is a talented and original writer.
added by zhejw | editNew York Times, Helen Schulman (Jul 6, 2012)
 
This novel is a standout not just because of the inventiveness of its plot, but also because of its language. Jess Walter is essentially a comic writer: Sometimes he's asking readers to laugh at the human condition; sometimes he's inviting us to just plain laugh.
added by zhejw | editNPR, Maureen Corrigan (Jun 18, 2012)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jess Walterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ballerini, EdoardoNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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De grootste architectonische meesterwerken van de oude Romeinen zijn gebouwd om er wilde dieren in te laten vechten.
- Voltaire, Briefwisselingen
Cleopatra: Ik wil niet de slaaf zijn van de liefde.
Marcus Antonius: Dan zul je geen liefde kennen.
- Uit de rampenfilm Cleopatra, 1963
[Dick] Cavett heeft in 1980 vier lange interviews gehouden met Richard Burton... Burton, met vierenvijftig jaar al een schitterende ruïne, was ongekend charismatisch.
- 'Talk Story' door Louis Menand, The New Yorker, 22 november 2010
Dedication
To Anne, Brooklyn, Ava, and Alec
First words
The dying actress arrived in his village the only way one could come directly -- in a boat that motored into the cove, lurched past the rock jetty, and bumped against the end of the pier.
Quotations
Pasquo, the smaller the space between your desire and what is rght, the happier you will be.(page 304)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Follows a young Italian innkeeper and his almost-love affair with a beautiful American starlet, which draws him into a glittering world filled with unforgettable characters.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061928127, Hardcover)

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 fifty 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:29 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A novel that spans fifty years. The Italian housekeeper and his long-lost American starlet; the producer who once brought them together, and his assistant. A glittering world filled with unforgettable characters.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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