Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters

The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks on 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.

“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.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[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.” (New York Times Book Review)

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Great book

    July 17, 2013

  • Cathy W.

    Welcome new members. Most enjoyed the book, and a lively discussion entailed on the characters.

    July 16, 2013

  • Christine

    Running a few mins behind

    July 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Not going to make it tonight. Feeling I see the weather. Hope you guys have a great discussion.

    July 16, 2013

  • Kathy

    I hope it's okay to come tomorrow night. I read the book quite a while ago and need to brush up on the story!

    July 15, 2013

    • Christine

      Of course! Look forward to it kathy

      July 16, 2013

  • Kathy

    So excited to join this group!

    July 15, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Have a new scheduling conflict, but still hope I can make it!

    July 15, 2013

  • Laneda

    Maybe I will make it to the Beautiful Ruins meeting after all, thanks to Christine's encouragement. I am really looking forward to Aug 12. I have read this author before and admire her work.

    July 14, 2013

    • Christine

      Great look forward to meeting you.. And I just started the book and so far so good

      July 14, 2013

  • mary b

    Has been slow going for me and won't be able to finish in time....

    July 14, 2013

    • Christine

      Come along even if you haven't finished/ didn't like it. We like to hear all reviews. Hope to see you but understand if you can't

      July 14, 2013

  • Tiff D.

    Hello, I am planning to attend though likely late! I'm sorry!

    July 13, 2013

  • Laneda

    Reading one-handed has proven to be too much of a challenge. No way I can finish the book in time. I will make it to the next meetup for sure.

    July 14, 2013

  • Clay W.

    My schedule has changed -- sorry to miss.

    July 14, 2013

  • Laneda

    "beautiful ruins" has been a bit difficult for me to get into as well, so not surprised at some of the negative comments. however i have passed point of no return and look forward to discussion. (still no caps due to 2 hand surgeries in 3 weeks.) will be my first meeting and look forward to meeting folks.

    July 13, 2013

    • Christine

      Look forward to meeting u and the discussion as well. Even if you don't finish it you can join us!

      July 13, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    After 2/3 of this book, I simply cannot get into it. Bowing it so someone else can come!

    July 3, 2013

  • Lisa

    I can't make it next week. I hope to join you another time.

    July 11, 2013

  • Christine

    Hi everyone! How exciting we have people wait listed to attend!
    Due to this, I wanted to message and ask everyone to check the date and if you are still planning on attending, great!! But if you aren't, please update your status so those on the wait list have an opportunity to join us.
    As an FYI to those wait listed- there are always no shows so you may want to try and be there anyway :)

    June 27, 2013

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Rafaël

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

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