Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter: A Review

Beautiful RuinsBeautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a beautiful, crazy story. Set alternately in 1962 Italy, current-day Hollywood, Idaho and Edinburgh, and following the lives of an Italian inn keeper, an American actress, a Hollywood producer, an aspiring screenwriter, and a has-been (maybe a never-was) musician, Beautiful Ruins is just that...the story of gorgeous ruined lives.

In 1962, Pasquale Tursi is twenty-two, having returned to his village to run his father's hotel. While he dreams of enticing American tourists to this remote cove, the tiny village is in reality the destination of no one. Until one day when Dee Moray, a beautiful American actress arrives. She is in Italy filming "Cleopatra" with Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, but has fallen ill.

What unfolds from this opening chapter is an intricate study of choice and fate, and of how desire informs both. "This is a love story...But really what isn't?" The characters Walter has created are hungry, desirous, wanting creatures (as are we all). And this book languishes in this human yearning.

I was absolutely captivated by these intertwined stories which lead, ultimately, to one of the most beautiful, lyrical final chapters I have ever read.

It is reminiscent of nothing...entirely original. A new favorite. Read this book. Read this book!

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