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464 of 497 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This will be on my Best of the Year list
Brief summary and review, no spoilers.

This story is told in chapters that go back and forth in time, starting in 1962 in a little Italian coastal town named Porto Vergogna (Port Shame.) Here we are introduced to a young man named Pasquel who's family owns the only small hotel in the village, the name of which translates to The Hotel Adequate View. Pasquale...
Published on March 25, 2012 by sb-lynn

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553 of 613 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just Not My Cuppa
Sometimes one clicks with a book, and other times...well, for me this was one of the other times. About half way through I realized that I really didn't care about the cast of a thousand characters, and was distracted by the fact that the locale shifted with every chapter -- one chapter is in Hollywood in the present and in next chapter one is back in Italy in 1962. For...
Published on April 4, 2012 by Ms Winston


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it, October 1, 2013
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This review is from: Beautiful Ruins (Kindle Edition)
I loved the writing and the story - from la to Italy to Madison to Idaho to Seattle. Wonderfully developed characters and an unexpected, lovely, entertaining plot.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Ruins, September 5, 2013
This is an inventive and emotional novel, set partly in 1962 Italy and partly 'recently' in the USA; where elderly Pasquale Tursi travels to Hollywood to ask famous film director Michael Deane (now so unrecognisable because of plastic surgery that visitors are urged 'not to stare')to track down an actress he first met as a young man. Pasquale had, in 1962, just inherited the wonderfully named 'The Hotel Adequate View'. Located in a tiny village, virtually unreachable except by boat, Pasquale thinks it is a mistake when beautiful American actress Dee Moray arrives to stay. Pasquale is told only that she is sick and many misunderstandings occur, until he bravely takes matters into his own hands and travels to Rome, where Moray had been filming 'Cleopatra'. The film, notorious for an out of control budget, how long it is taking to complete and cast problems has become a monster. Into this novel pour cameo performances by real life people, such as Richard Burton, as a non stop talker, who is fuelled by a constant stream of alcohol.

The novel is about a secret, covered up by the studio in a time when the internet did not exist and gossip and rumour could be controlled - or at least manipulated. It is about how that secret affected the characters as they lived their lives, of doing the right thing, and of how Hollywood works, both now and then. A funny, romantic and often sweet novel, it is a charming and enjoyable read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice beach book -- but not much more, August 25, 2013
This is a good read -- "a tasty little Frito of a book," to borrow a phrase. And that doesn't take anything away from it; it is what it is, and for what it is, it's fine. Enjoy it and admire it for that. What's over-blown are the reviews, creating expectations the book can't fulfill.

The book has at least two significant limitations. First, the characters are one-dimensional (saintly protagonist, evil villain antagonist), insofar as the characters cohere and make sense at all (the main female character does not, and the Richard Burton character is a cartoon, a drunken clown, which really doesn't completely capture Richard Burton).

Second, anyone who has read "Corelli's Mandolin" -- and I suspect this includes the author, whether this occurred to him consciously or not -- will remember a much better variant of the same basic story. (I'm not talking about the Nicholas Cage movie, which ruined "Corelli's Mandolin" for a lot of people.)

A third limitation, at least for me, is one of my pet peeves: The notion of parents hiding the identity of someone's biological parent from him or her is a commonplace literary trick, a cliche almost; but in real life it is irresponsible and generally recognized as such, and thus it is not consistent with treating some who does it as a wholly admirable character in a book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read, May 12, 2013
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This review is from: Beautiful Ruins (Kindle Edition)
A romantic and elegantly written story, Beautiful Ruins weaves together the lives of its central characters with an expert hand, handling issues of addiction, the madness and loyalty in true love and finding your life story with unexpected poignancy. Would highly recommend.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, May 12, 2013
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This review is from: Beautiful Ruins (Kindle Edition)
A wonderfully written, many faceted story. Well developed characters with human grace and flaws. A pleasure to read. Here are the two words you wanted.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of the Year Indeed!, May 4, 2013
While traveling cross-country last weekend, I passed the time reading novels I'd recently received. One of these was Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. The book is simply fantastic. Walter presents a moving story encompassing friendship and love that spans a lifetime.

Pasquale is a deep and soulful innkeeper in a rarely visited, small Italian village. He dreams of running a large, profitable, and popular resort that would serve as a beacon for adventurous American tourists but when Americans do venture onto his island home they are few and far between and transpires is nothing as he's imagined. It's better.

The novel unwinds Pasquale's story and those of his two American guests, tracing their paths across continents and back together again to a satisfying and beautiful conclusion.

Walter draws a portrait of each character so multi-faceted that we learn to love and identify with each of them, regardless of their foibles. Walter even manages to weave in real-life events and figures (Elizabeth Taylor) in a way that is natural and believable and not at all forced, awkward, or artificial.

Common to the greatest of books, the feelings that welled up when I reached the end of Beautiful Ruins were bittersweet joy (these characters will live on in my mind indefinitely), an aspiration to write a novel (I want to write like this! I want to make people feel this way! I want to bring characters alive just like this!), and an immediate desire to hunt down the rest of Walter's books to add to my "must read" list.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story, January 31, 2013
By 
Debifi (CHEVY CHASE, MD, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beautiful Ruins (Kindle Edition)
This book was entertaining and fun to read, but also thought-provoking. Mr. Walter writes from the point of view of several characters, and he does it so well! Each voice is different, and always consistent. The story is about many kinds of love over many years, but it also has a lighter side- it's a very funny (and sometimes shocking) lampoon of the movie industry. I have given it as a gift because I enjoyed it so much, and I highly recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different Type of Love Story, January 30, 2013
Beautiful Ruins is a different type of love story transcending 1962 Italy to present day Hollywood. The author weaves humor with heartbreak and before you know it, the reader is invested in finding out what happens to Pasquale, the Italian romantic. The novel is a bit convoluted, but the storyline works and the numerous characters all tie together. The characters are brilliantly drawn, truly a strength of the author. The description of the Hollywood producer/pr agent is masterful. Toss in a dose of the movie, Cleopatra and a beautiful starlet attempting to escape her destiny. Even Richard Burton pops in like Jack Nicholson does in his cameo roles in movies. It's an engaging read and searing view of the human heart.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything -- and Everyone -- Ages, January 29, 2013
By 
David Elliott (Portland, OR, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beautiful Ruins (Kindle Edition)
The years take their toll in this novel that is at times laugh-out-loud funny yet also heartbreaking. The settings range from World War II Europe, Hollywood, Seattle, Rome and a handful of other locales, but mostly a remote seaside village in Italy. For movie buffs, there's the film set of Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor, along with characters that include actors, writers, producers, and even the late Richard Burton making an extended appearance. This unpredictable page turner is a winner, with seemingly unrelated stories tied together believably at the end. In addition to being a phenomenal read, this book would be a natural for a miniseries.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Ruins, November 30, 2012
This review is from: Beautiful Ruins (Kindle Edition)
This book encourages thoughtful reflection and/or discussion on the relationship between love, aging, responsibility, passion, and life in general. I think the title says it all and that the main idea is that life is bittersweet at best. We are all flawed and yet all beautiful at the same time. I loved this book..an original idea and characters lovingly developed!
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Beautiful Ruins
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (Paperback)
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