Beautiful Ruins attracted my attention with its beautiful cover. I haven’t heard about Jess Walters, and without even reading the blurb, I bought the book. Because sometimes the book covers tell a lot about the story and I knew I’d like this.
A small seaside town that you cannot keep your eyes off of it. The one that makes you dream of sunny days and flower smelling breezes, even though you have no idea where it is (though Italy comes to mind immediately). A deep blue sea; a light blue cloudless sky; an intriguing name written in a nice font that suits this image: Beautiful Ruins. Of course, I had to have this book! Now, after reading it, it makes me very happy to know why this cover image is not just beautiful but meaningful as well.
I thought I would read this book in a sitting and with a smile on my face. Of course, as with any new author, this meeting did not come out as I expected. Beautiful Ruins is a bit of a historical novel, a bit of a romance, but most of all, it has many unexpected layers. I can say that I am in love with all the characters, from the main characters to the little side characters that made this book a legend for me. The subject and the narration will stay with you for a while. Jess Walter is now among the authors I will read without thinking twice. I suggest you get to know this author, too. While the sun is beginning to show itself, read this with your favourite cold drink. Enjoy!
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.
Jess Walter is an American author of six novels, a collection of short stories, and a non-fiction book. His books have been published in twenty-six countries and translated into twenty-eight languages.