Audiobook: Beautiful Ruins

beautiful ruinsby Jess Walter
Read by: Edoardo Ballerini
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There is a bit of sex, and a lot of swearing, including a bunch of f-bombs. It’s in the adult section of the bookstore.

It’s April 1962, and Pasquale has just returned home to his small seaside village of Porto Vergogna to run his deceased father’s hotel, Hotel Adequate View. It’s a nothing of a hotel in a nothing of a village, and he pretty much feels like he’s at a dead end. Then the beautiful American actress Dee Moray shows up on Pasquale’s doorstep.

Thinking she has cancer, Dee’s on leave from the Richard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor production from Cleopatra. She takes refuge at Pasquale’s hotel while he tries to figure out who sent her and why she was there.

Flash forward fifty years, when Pasquale shows up in Hollywood at the famous producer Michael Dean’s office, looking for Dee. And in and around those two events there is a story. Between flashbacks and flash forwards and a few side trips, Walter spills out Dee and Pasquale’s story, from his affair with an older woman (that resulted in a child) to her affair with Richard Burton (that resulted in a child) and the consequences of their decisions.

It was a bit more meandering than I like my books to be. There were several sections that if I had read this in print, I would have skipped. And so, listening to it on audio, I kind of got impatient. However, the narrator was brilliant. Didn’t matter the accent, he was there and so, so good. In fact, it’s what kept me listening throughout the book. Eventually, I did bail, during the epilogue-like part because I just lost interest.

There were parts that I did enjoy, threads of the larger story that I did connect with. But mostly, other than the narrator, I wasn’t that thrilled with the book. It’s just wasn’t my sort of story.

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