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Synopsis

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.

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CUSTOMER REVIEWS

Beautiful Ruins
Average rating
4.2 / 5
Beautiful
November 12th, 2014
Buy this and read it for the Richard Burton monologue alone. Smart, funny, improbable, and did I mention funny? It has kind of got everything - the have-not resort, glamorous movie types, beautiful women, family secrets, redemptions....but seriously, the Richard Burton bits are the best.
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1 review
Wonderful Story....
September 20th, 2014
I did enjoy this unlikely tale. Good beach read. Well written. If you are looking for something light to read....go for it!
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
I really enjoyed this book. The story is lovely and a bit haunting. The characters are interesting and relatable and the storyline progresses through several decades so you get to see the choices the characters make and how these choices affect the outcome of their lives. Great read.
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1 review
Rocky
December 25th, 2013
Got caught in a slow part. Frustrating going back and forth in time. All in all, a well written book.
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1 review
Epic Vacation Read
November 18th, 2013
For anyone who likes old and new Hollywood, this epic saga is very charming and more profound than I expected.
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2 reviews
Epic Vacation Read
November 18th, 2013
For anyone who likes old and new Hollywood, this epic saga is very charming and more profound than I expected.
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2 reviews
October 4th, 2013
What a heart-felt, heart-breaking story. Jess Walter is brilliant at describing the location of this book and creating characters who have stories to tell themselves rather than histories of the characters themselves. I loved the way Walter's bonded the characters.
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1 review
Cinque terre , a little piece of heaven
January 4th, 2013
For some reason I loved this book. The writing wasn't melodious and perfect but the characters were very well written and you wanted to cheer for them. It was a great start to 2013 and I hope the rest of the years reads are as entertaining.
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1 review

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