Fiction: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter-White elephant gift night!

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.

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.

UPDATE: At last night's meeting we discussed bringing a white elephant gift to exchange. Limit is $15. The last time we did this we exchanged books we love but it could be anything you'd like to share. Bring the gift wrapped and we can pick and trade if we want.

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  • laura r.

    As always an enjoyable time!

    December 10, 2013

  • Martha M.

    Thank you so much to the ladies that was there at The Harp Pub last night, you made me feel so welcome! I an awesome time. Can't wait to do it again. Have a wonderful and save holiday and happy New Year!

    December 10, 2013

  • Niki D.

    Good to see everyone!

    December 10, 2013

  • Dayna S.

    Sorry guys I'm sick as a dog. I even have a gift dammit!!!! see you next go round.

    December 9, 2013

    • Kristine

      Feel better and tAke care!!! I haven't seen you in forever girl!!

      December 9, 2013

    • Kristine

      Niki forgot her gift so you two can exchange at the next meetup!

      December 10, 2013

  • Kristine

    Hi, Don't forget Monday is White Elephant Gift night. It can be anything with a $15 limit. If you can't participate no worries-just show up for food and the discussion! And if you can't make it be sure and cancel so people on the wait list can attend!

    December 7, 2013

  • Martha M.

    Hi..does anyone here know why their is a 15 attendee limit? A couple of us are on the waiting list and we are dying to attend the Beautiful Ruins discussion. Just wondering.

    December 4, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Hi Martha. The venue we meet in (a bar) is very noisy and not conducive to a large group discussion. It ends up that no one can actually hear what is being said! A group of 15 or less works best because we can sit at a smaller table where everyone can be heard. That being said, many times people who have signed up do not show up, and do not notify the group of their cancellation. As a result, there is often times "room for one more". Contact Kristine about attending our next book discussion. It is a very nice group of intelligent, thoughtful, women. I look forward to meeting you one day soon!

      December 5, 2013

    • Martha M.

      Hi Judy...In regards to contacting Kristine for the next book discussion, that is what I did month ago today. I've read 2 books so far and have yet to attend the group, I feel this is becoming quite redundant. What's the point anyway in joining a book club? So, are going to contact Kristine?

      December 5, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Me too, Martha! I am on the wait-list too, so if you are "attending" please post if you can't attend because I want to be part of the White Elephant Gift Exchange. I already have a gift!!!

    December 2, 2013

  • Martha M.

    Hi, I'm Martha Morales. I'm totally okay with being on the waitlist considering I passed up my chance to attend November's meeting.
    After reading the premise for "Beautiful Ruins" I'm excited to get started, it looks like it's a delightful story. All I can do now is cross my fingers and hope to join-in on Decembers discussion.

    November 4, 2013

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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.

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