Thursday, 21 June 2018

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

The story begins in 1962. Somewhere 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 views an apparition: a beautiful woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an American starlet, he soon learns, and she is dying.

And the story begins again today, half a world away in Hollywood, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot searching for the woman he last saw at his hotel fifty years before.

I have so enjoyed reading this book. Set in southern Italy I had the thrill of reading it whilst sitting on a sun soaked terrace overlooking Lake Garda in Italy. Although I was further north than the novel is set, it provided my reading experience with a certain degree of authenticity.

That said, this is a wonderful book to read and I would have enjoyed it just as much on a grey rainy day in England because this book has the ability to transport the reader to warmer climes through it's pages of atmospheric descriptions. I am certain that I would have believed myself to be in Italy even if I had not physically been there.

The book is also partly set in America and it moves seamlessly between place, past and present being set partly in the Italy of 1962 and present day America.

Pasquale and Dee are two of the most delightful fictional characters I have had the pleasure of reading about. However, factual characters also play a part in this book with the actor, Richard Burton, having a significant role.

In fact, the authors sense of character development is first class and I remained engaged by the characters over a sixty year development; no small task for an author but was deftly handled by Mr. Walter.

This book would appeal to anyone who enjoys characterization in their reading along with a perfect setting and some romance to boot. I would love to hear your thoughts on this lovely book.

ISBN: 978 0670922659

Publisher: Penguin

About the Author:

Jess Walter is the author of five novels and one nonfiction book. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages and his essays, short fiction, criticism and journalism have been widely published, in DetailsPlayboyNewsweekThe Washington Post, the Los Angeles TimesThe Boston Globe among many others.

Walter also writes screenplays and was the co-author of Christopher Darden’s 1996 bestseller In Contempt. He lives with his wife Anne and children, Brooklyn, Ava and Alec in his childhood home of Spokane, Washington.

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