Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins
by Jess Walter
ISBN: 978-0-06-192812-3
Buy from Indigo
Release Date: June 12, 2012

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 lotsearching 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 motionalong 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

The Good Stuff
  • A truly unique and imaginative tale, the Donner party film pitch alone is worth the price of the book
  • Beautifully written, this author has a true gift for characterization
  • I won't lie, I started reading and was worried that I was going to hate it, but it slowly grew on me.  This story in a lesser novelists hands would have failed miserably, but Walters has the chops to make it work.  This is the type of story I usually do not enjoy, but let me tell you it really is truly beautiful and wise so give it a chance
  • Honest and real, heartrendingly sad, yet hopeful and beautiful
  • Nostalgic - you really feel you are part of  1962
  • Richard Burton and Liz Taylor are intertwined throughout the story
  • Pasquale is such a richly written and oh so very real and delightful character
  • Darkly funny at the right moments
  • Makes you think about your life and what you want/need
  • Enjoyed how all of the stories came together in a smooth unforced way
 The Not So Good Stuff
  • Drags a wee bit
  • Depressing at times
  • I personally felt there were too many voices for the story, but that is just my opinion - not a judgement against the story
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"He didn't think of Heaven as a smiling place. If mortal sinners went to Hell and venal sinners like himself went to Purgatory, then Heaven had to be full of no one but saints, priests, nuns and baptized babies who died before they had a chance to do anything wrong."

"In that doomed final month of the marriage - in what felt like a live autopsy of his manhood - Saundra tried to make him feel "better" by insisting it wasn't entirely his fault; he was part of a ruined generation of young men coddled by their parents-by their mothers especially - raised on unearned self-esteem, in a bubble of over-affection, in a sad incubator of phony achievement."

"Of course I'd arranged abortions before. I worked in publicity. It was practically on the business card. But this was Italy. Catholic Italy 1962. At that time it would have been easier to get a moon rock."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Not for those looking for a fast paced exciting read, this is one you savor my friends
  • Fabulous for those looking for something just a little bit different

3.75 Dewey's

I received this from William Morrow in exchange for an honest review


  1. I am glad to see you enjoyed it! It is on my reading list in the very near future.

  2. Thanks shirley I hope you enjoy as well

  3. This totally sounds like my kind of book. Putting it on my list!

  4. I like your review. This sounds interesting but one of those books I might have to stretch myself to read. Drama is not my first choice. :-)
    Thanks for sharing.