Beautiful Ruins

A Novel

By Jess Walter

Narrated by Edoardo Ballerini
12 hours 53 minutes

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

And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion—along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow. Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.

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

[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.

Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

About the Author

A former National Book Award finalist, #1 New York Times bestseller and winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award, Jess Walter is the author of six novels, a book of short stories and a nonfiction book. His work has been translated into 30 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.

Reviews

A literary miracle.

Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air

Walter is a prodigiously gifted writer. His sentences nearly sing … what unfolds is ambitious, and a lesser writer could never have engineered such masterful jumps through time.

Christopher Bollen, The LA Book Review

A near-perfect rendezvous ... a novel whose decade- and continent-hopping ingenuity expertly scratches the seasonal itch for both literary depth and dazzle.

Entertainment Weekly

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

The New York Times

Author

Narrator
Edoardo Ballerini

ISBN
9780062201621

Length
12 hours 53 minutes

Language
English

Publisher
HarperCollins

Publication Date

Abridged
No

  • Life, he thought, is a blatant act of imagination.
  • [T]he smaller the space between your desire and what is right, the happier you will be.
  • But I think some people wait forever, and only at the end of their lives do they realize that their life has happened while they were waiting for it to start.

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