Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am still reeling from the sheer magnitude of this novel. Beautiful Ruins SHOULD NOT WORK, but it most definitely does! Jess Walter hurtles you through different time periods and storylines whilst introducing you to a multitude of diverse characters. It is a bit like an epileptic fit, which would normally be a recipe for reader confusion, but somehow this gifted author manages to keep it all together in the most remarkable way.
The story starts and ends with two characters, Pasquale Trusi and Dee Moray (aka Debra Moore). Pasquale, the instantly likeable proprietor of “Hotel Adequate View”, is mesmerized by the seemingly fragile Dee Moray, when she arrives at his hotel. She believes that she is suffering from stomach cancer which has forced her to abandon her supporting role in the film Cleopatra. These two characters together form the golden thread which brings together the other plots and characters in the novel. Every character, no matter how brief their appearance in the novel, is either directly or indirectly linked to Pasquale and Dee.
Fifty years after their initial meeting at the “Hotel Adequate View” the story ends with Pasquale and Dee back in Italy, but the journey that Walter takes us on between these two defining scenes can only be described as a rollercoaster ride of immense proportions!
Beautiful Ruins is an intricate weaving of disparate tales into one incredible story about life. The writing is witty and hard hitting, the descriptions are wonderful and the characters are captivating. To put it simply - I loved it!
I listened to the audiobook version of this novel, which was superbly narrated by Edoardo Ballerini. He made the novel come alive and my trips to and from work have been an absolute pleasure for the last couple of weeks. In fact, I feel somewhat bereft that I will not be engaging with the novel’s characters tomorrow morning and welcome any suggestions on what I should be listening to next!
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