Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"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." [Book description via amazon.com]
Now for my review. I LOVED this book. I won't lie, it was a little hard to get into at first, but after it got going I devoured it. The last book I read "The Red House" did a poor job of linking multiple story-lines. This book did a FANTASTIC job. Even with going between stories it did so in such a fluid way and the author really connected the characters all to the main story. I was very moved by the book. I felt the happiness, the sorrow. I even caught myself tearing up at points. This story really captures the realities of life and how things can be so "beautifully ruined" and how while things may not often go according to plan, they often go in the ways that they should, even if its not what we initially hope for. Sometimes it is what we need.
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