by Jess Walters
Beautiful Ruins is a glorious read for book lovers. From the
moment you pick up the novel, it conjures a world that you long to
enter. The teal-blue Ligurian Sea laps against a jagged coastline filled
with candy-colored houses and open windows. At first glance, you’re
dying to get inside those houses and find out what’s going on.
needn’t worry. Jess Walter has written a sumptuous epic about the real
people who make art, spinning illusion for fun, profit, and meaning.
There are screen actors, a novelist, and Pasquale, an innkeeper, who
keeps his patrons fed and watered on homemade wine and dreams. Among all
the shimmer and hope are the lost souls who long to create something,
anything. And just as Jess Walter introduces us to these characters, he
follows them for fifty years. The journey will delight and captivate
You will be crushed when the novelist, Alvis, tracks down a
woman whom he believed saved him in his youth, only to take a long walk
down a dark hallway into a room where everything he believes and all his
hopes shatter in one exchange. Jess Walter can break your heart in one
If you love the ancient charms of the Italian coast
on the Ligurian Sea, if you long for Edinburgh and its cold rain and
distant hot sun, and if you love stories of the dream factory that is
Hollywood, you will not be able to part from this book until you are
finished reading it. Even then, for months afterward, you’ll keep it
close so you can reread a passage here and there that moved you.
all here, the illusion and reality, the joy and the shame of the
creative life, of life itself. The ingenue Dee, the producer Michael,
and the D-girl Claire take you into the world of making movies, the
expectations and disappointments, and in an ingenious turn, the author
pins the hem of the action with real Hollywood stars, Elizabeth Taylor
and Richard Burton, who are engaging in a drama of their own in Rome.
Jess Walter has quietly and expertly built a career over six novels that puts him at the forefront of great American writers. Beautiful Ruins is the emerald among the pearls.