Beautiful Ruins: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


Wendy's Staff Pick (February 2013): A perfect getaway read! National Book Award finalist Jess Walter weaves together present day Hollywood and the Italian Amalfi coast of 1960 in this well-written tragicomic novel. The setting is the lavish set of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s film classic Cleopatra. A struggling innkeeper named Pasqual falls in love with a mysterious starlet…setting the plot in motion.

Beautiful Ruins is bound to be included as a Notable Book of 2013.

— From Wendy's Picks

July 2012 Indie Next List


“In 1962, a young Italian innkeeper unwittingly ends up taking part in the Hollywood 'clean up' of a love affair on the set for the film Cleopatra. Fast forward to present day Los Angeles; Pasquale Tursi shows up at the studio of a legendary Hollywood producer to find out the fate of the actress he met so briefly, so long ago. The 'beautiful ruins' refer not only to the stunning descriptions of the Italian coastline, but also to the winding path a life can take and the sweet middle ground that we sometimes discover when our dreams don't pan out.”
— Sarah Harvey, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

Description


The #1 New York Times bestseller, now available in paperback—Jess Walter’s “absolute masterpiece” (Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author): the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962 and resurfaces fifty years later in contemporary Hollywood.

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. Hailed by critics and loved by readers of literary and historical fiction, Beautiful Ruins is the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962...and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later. 

Praise For…


“A monument to crazy love . . . Walter [is] a believer in capricious destiny with a fine, freewheeling sense of humor.”

“Walter is a very, very funny writer and can do Hollywood satire with the best of them. But this is also a novel with a live, beating heart, full of sympathy for its characters and a gut wisdom…You’ll want to explore these Ruins.”

“Walter vividly draws a world both tender and cutthroat, where ambition battles reality, daydreams fight doldrums and sometimes win.”

“A marvel, an absolute gem of a beach read that is both hilarious and heartbreaking.”

“Expertly scratches the seasonal itch for both literary depth and dazzle.”

“Entrancing…Walter’s turns of phrase are as brilliant as his plot twists, making for a compelling, fun read.”

“Lyrical, heartbreaking, and funny . . . Walter closes the deal with such command that you begin to wonder why up till now he’s not often been mentioned as one of the best novelists around. Beautiful Ruins might just correct that oversight.”

“Beautiful . . . A shining, imaginative tale . . . Beautiful Ruins shows novelists how it is done.”

“His [Walter’s] characters are long-suffering, prone to failure and sometimes at death’s door. But the verve and enthusiasm of this novel, from its let’s-go-everywhere structure to the comedy in the marrow of its sentences, are wholly life-affirming.”

“A beautiful narrative . . . This writer is a genius of the modern American moment.”

“A novel shot in sparkly Technicolor. . . . reimagines history in a package so appealing we’d be idiots not to buy it.”

“Well-constructed…quirky and entertaining tale of greed, treachery, and love.”

“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.”

“[N]othing less than brilliant, a tour de force that crosses decades, continents, and genres, to powerful and often hilarious effect....A masterful novel of love, loss, and hard-won hope that satisfies on every level.”

“Within a page-turner of a plot, these triumphantly vulnerable characters leap off the page to take up permanent residence in your inner life. The effect is so powerful that to be untouched by Beautiful Ruins might well be like having no inner life at all.”

“A brilliant, madcap meditation on fate. . . . Walter’s prose is a joy-funny, brash, witty and rich with ironic twists. He’s taken all of the tricks of the postmodern novel and scoured out the cynicism, making for a novel that’s life-affirming but never saccharine.”

“A novel with pathos, piercing wit and, most important, the generous soul of a literary classic. . . . Walter has planted himself firmly in the first rank of American authors.”

“A literary miracle.”

Beautiful Ruins is satisfying and delicate, a spectacular story of love, frustration, selfish intent, and the patience of the human heart.”

“[A] high-wire feat of bravura storytelling. . . . [Walter’s] mixture of pathos and comedy stirs the heart and amuses as it also rescues us from the all too human pain that is the motor of this complex and ever-evolving novel.”

“His masterpiece . . . an interlocking, continent-hopping, decade-spanning novel with heart and pathos to burn, all big dreams, lost loves, deep longings and damn near perfect.”

“It is a powerful and lush book.”

“A great getaway of a novel.”

Beautiful Runs is itself a showcase for Walter’s outrageous literary gifts in virtually every genre and style. . .No wonder critics have been outdoing each other with superlatives. . .”

“[An] enchanting novel. . . Sweeping effortlessly back and forth between Italy and current-day Hollywood, and between various modes of storytelling, Walters builds a world that won’t soon let you go.”

“Combines satisfying, old-fashioned storytelling with a modern sensibility.”


Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780061928178
ISBN-10: 0061928178
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2013
Pages: 368
Language: English
Series: P.S.