Sunday, April 19, 2015

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

The blurb on the front of the book reads

"A Literary Miracle"

I'm inclined to agree. I put off reading this book until the 11th hour, for no particular reason (perhaps because I had seen the words "love story"). I'm very glad I picked it up and gave it a chance.

We begin in 1962, as a dying young actress arrives by boat to Porto Vergogna to stay at The Hotel Adequate View. Pasquale Tursi is out building his beach to try and bring in American tourists. The actress, Dee Moray, was working on the film Cleopatra when she was told she had stomach cancer.

We jump to present day and Claire Silver, an assistant of Michael Deane, a somewhat washed-up but cunning film producer who jumped the shark and is trying to get back. Shane Wheeler is a young man meeting with Claire to pitch his movie about the Donner Party.

From here, the book jumps back and forth between, one thinks, two different stories. Not so, dear reader. As Alvis Bender, an "author" who stays at Hotel Adequate View 2 weeks a year to write his novel (of which there is only one chapter) says to Pasquale:

"Stories are people. I'm a story, you're a story.... [ ]. Our stories go in every direction, but sometimes, if we're lucky, our stories join into one, and for awhile, we're less alone." 
 The stories in Beautiful Ruins are so wonderfully woven together that once I got started, I couldn't stop. I had to know more and be with the characters longer. It is a love story, a story about family, a story about chances and regrets. It's beautiful.

There is much more to the novel, but you need to discover it for yourself


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