Beautiful Ruins – a Book Review



I finally finished reading Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins after quite awhile since beginning it.  I’m not sure why it took me so long to get through this book….it was actually a really good story but, for some reason, it didn’t grab my attention wholeheartedly.  The story bounced around between Italy in the 1960’s to the present day, with times in between…and at times, I found it hard to keep up.  Towards the end, when it all started to come together, the book read faster and became more enjoyable because I could finally relate all the characters to each other.

The story begins in a tiny little coastal Italian town near the Cinque Terre in the early 1960’s- a town that no one has ever heard of.  A young man has taken over the dilapidated hotel that his father owned before he died and has dreams of creating a super resort that will attract rich Americans!  That dream seems to be coming true when a beautiful American actress suddenly appears one day to stay at his little hotel.  He instantly falls in love with her but knows that nothing will probably ever come of it.  Nonetheless they develop a fondness for each other and they exchange secrets. Unfortunately it all comes to an abrupt end when her very famous lover comes to whisk her away!

Life goes on for this young man – he creates a happy life for himself, even though he always remembers the beautiful American actress.  Life goes on for her as well, and we are introduced to new characters which become part of her life.

Fast forward to the present day, when an old Italian man appears in Hollywood with an old business card looking for that beautiful American actress from the past.  It is at this point that all the pieces start fitting together and I zipped along to the end!

You may be wondering why I have included the photo below….


The beautiful American actress was actually working on the epic movie Cleopatra when she happened to come to the little island. There are some little twists and turns with Richard Burton and Liz Taylor in the story which give us a little historical account of the tumultuous set of this great movie.


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