The acclaimed, award-winning author of the national bestseller The Financial Lives of the Poets returns with his funniest, most romantic, and most purely enjoyable novel yet: the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962 . . . and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later.
“Why mince words? Beautiful Ruins is an absolute masterpiece.” —Richard Russo
“A ridiculously talented writer.” —New York Times
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Charming and unafraid of big, boisterous feelings, Jess Walter’s novel is about love and fame, and the lives built and demolished in the thwarted pursuits of them. Beautiful Ruins tells a vast story that moves across time, place, and genre—from the Ligurian coast to Rome during the filming of Cleopatra to Edinburgh and Idaho and present-day Hollywood. Walter takes his time teasing out the stories of his large cast of hazily romantic characters. We were hanging on every word as he propelled us through a half-century of dreams.
Edgar Award winning author Walter's well-constructed, bittersweet romance begins in April 1962, when a young innkeeper, Pasquale Tursi, puts up the "ethereal" American actress Dee Moray, who has arrived supposedly sick with stomach cancer at the remote Italian port of Vergogna. She has come from the extravagant Rome location of Cleopatra along with the philandering, tempestuous co-stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (Walter's title is taken from a description of Burton at 54). Pasquale soon discovers that 20th Century Fox's chief troubleshooter, the young Michael Deane, has in fact whisked Dee, pregnant with the married Burton's child, away from the public eye to avoid scandal. Predictably, Pasquale falls in love with the beleaguered, vulnerable Dee, who is under pressure from Deane and the studio to get a discrete abortion in Switzerland. Fifty years later, the elderly Pasquale shows up on a Hollywood back lot looking for information about Dee's present whereabouts, much to the consternation of Deane, now a largely washed-up figure. The twisty narrative rolls on to show what actually became of Dee and her son, Pat Bender, a middle-aged, small-time performer. The Hollywood glitterati, led by the duplicitous Deane, come off looking thoroughly jaded and shallow compared to the stately, chivalrous Pasquale in Walter's (Citizen Vince) quirky and entertaining tale of greed, treachery, and love.
An enjoyable read from Walter with interesting characters and comical situations throughout. I am looking forward to reading more of his books...EAF
Great character development and descriptions of Italian life.
This book pushed me in many different directions. Too many side-stories and characters that pulled from the focus of the main subject matter.