Title: Beautiful Ruins
Author: Jess Walter
Narrator: Edoardo Ballerini
Published: June 2012 – HarperCollins
Synopsis (from the back of the ARC): 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 slender blonde 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 fifty years before.
What unfolds from there is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, teeming with Jess Walter’s trademark unforgettable characters: the Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically cynical film producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; and the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow. . .
My brief take: I enjoyed Beautiful Ruins so much I knew it would be on my 2012 Favorites list as soon as I finished reading it. You get a sense of the novel from the synopsis but really it must be experienced. I loved how Jess Walter wove the various characters’ stories together. I wasn’t sure where they would all end up but I had faith I’d be satisfied with the conclusion. I was.
I’m so glad I decided to listen to Beautiful Ruins (I also read a print review copy) . There’s no way I could have voiced the characters’ accents, language, etc. in my mind anywhere close to the narrator. Edoardo Ballerini’s performance is perfect.
Recommend? Yes! Read the book and if you enjoy listening, I highly recommend the audiobook.
Note: I appreciated the Author Q&A included at the end of the audiobook.
Disclosure: My review copy was from the publisher. I bought the audiobook. See sidebar for disclosure statement. I was not compensated for my review.