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.
"Any reservations the reader might have about another book about Hollywood, about selling one's soul (or someone else's, and pocketing the change) will probably be swept aside by this high-wire feat of bravura storytelling. Walter is a talented and original writer." - Helen Shulman, New York Times
"I have weeks, as a book reviewer...when it seems like every new book is a riff on Jane Austen, or a young adult vampire/warrior, shape-shifter fantasy, or yet another homage to dead dogs. And then a literary miracle like Beautiful Ruins appears, and once again I'm a believer." - Maureen Corrigan, NPR
"Beautiful Ruins is first-rate storytelling. It is a novel filled with delightful humor, wit and scathing sarcasm for Hollywood and its "industry." Some of it is hilarious, and some touching and genuinely moving. It is profound and frivolous, poignant and zany. It's a fine piece of writing and great fun to read." - Corinna Lothar, The Washington Times
"Well-constructed quirky and entertaining tale of greed, treachery, and love." - Publishers Weekly
"Why mince words? Beautiful Ruins is an absolute masterpiece." - Richard Russo
"This is a blockbuster, with romance, majesty, comedy, smarts, and a cast of thousands. There's lights, there's camera, there's action. If you want anything more from a novel than Jess Walter gives you in Beautiful Ruins, you're getting thrown out of the theater." - Daniel Handler, author of Why We Broke Up and creator of Lemony Snicket
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Rated of 5
A Tedious and Disappointing Read
This book was my book club's selection. I did not like it. After the first 50 pages I was ready to stop reading. I did plod on though. The book got slightly better near the end and I managed to finish it. I didn't like the story line. It was confusing and very disjointed. The randomness of the various story lines came together at the end but I felt like it was contrived. The only thing I liked was the description of southern Italy but it wasn't enough to sustain my interest. When my book club did discuss the book, there were divergent opinions. Some people loved it, some hated it, and others shrugged and said it was ok. I would not recommend it and even though it was meant to be satirical, I didn't think it was well written. I read that the author took 15 years to write this book and he kept changing the storyline every few years. I think he should've just stopped writing.
Rated of 5
Jess Walters is one of contemporary fiction's most talented writers. Every book he has written is different and engaging. This story, that traverses continents and times in compelling ways, tells the story of an Italian innkeeper in a decrepit town on the sea. When his path crosses that of a Hollywood actress, events fold along unpredictable paths until they converge to a seamless whole. "Beautiful Ruins" is a moniker for the actor Richard Burton, whose story of fame and self-destruction is familiar to many.
This novel shines light on the lives of its complex characters, each a beautiful ruin in some way, who yet manage to repair themselves and become whole again. I am so glad I managed to read this book which I missed when it was first published in the summer of '12.
Rated of 5
I was very disappointed in this novel. For all the hype and drum rolls I heard, I expected an interesting and phenomenal read – boy was I wrong!
It’s hard to explain but I actually found the story confusing at times and at other times rambling on and on and on but really not going anywhere. I will admit that I skipped and just skimmed through some of the chapters just so my misery could end a tad sooner.
Giving an undesirable review of a book bothers me greatly but when I began this book review blog I vowed to be honest. And, just because I didn’t enjoy Beautiful Ruins doesn’t mean that you won’t. I’ve read many glowing reviews so I know a lot of people did enjoy it thoroughly and I sincerely hope that you will too.
A former National Book Award finalist and winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award, Jess Walter is the author of six novels, one nonfiction book and one collection of stories. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages and his essays, short fiction, criticism and journalism have been widely published, in Best American Short Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading, Harper's, Esquire, McSweeney's, Byliner, Playboy, ESPN the Magazine, Details and many others.
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