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Beautiful Ruins: A Novel

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Jess Walter

Narrated By: Edoardo Ballerini

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Date: June 2012

Duration: 12 hours 56 minutes


The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out 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.


  • Anonymous

    This book is a masterpiece worthy of the 15 years Jess Walter spent writing it. Starting with the contrasting styles of a hilarious modern day scenario and a lush, romantic portrait of the Italian seaside in the 1960's, he subtly draws them together, pulling in even more fascinating story lines until the whole thing becomes a single piece of literary macrame. No doubt someone will grab this story and make a wonderful film of it, but it is Walter's masterful writing and creative imagery that elevate it to true art. And then there is all that beautiful Italian language...Bravissimo, Jess!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Tony I

    This is truly upmarket fiction at its best. Jess Walter is a master at his craft of and eloquence, without muddying the flow with overdone prose.

  • Ayela Mujeeb

    Beautifully written. The 1960s and present day are woven together in a great way. I really enjoyed this book and the narrator is fantastic. I hope this is made into a film!

  • Jordan Ragsdale

    Wonderful! A story broad in geography and time. A true love story.

  • Susan Williams

    I couldn't even finish listening to this book! I kept thinking it would get better but it never did. The narrator was fine but the story line in Hollywood was abysmal.

  • Jill Hasler

    I loved this book! At first I thought it was weird that it was going back and forth through different time periods, but once I got the hang of it, I realized that is the beauty of the book. Touching, funny, surprising and just an overall great story. The narrator was wonderful, he had a different voice for everyone and always kept the voices/accents true to the character. I couldn't wait to get to the end, but now I'm sad it's over.

  • Rosemarie Hoffmann

    A carefully woven novel in the classic sense. We fall in love, and laugh, and anguish over the characters and close the book feeling a pang for their and our own lives.

  • andrea shoate

    Masterpiece is correct! I will never forget the experiencing the journey this book took me on. I will recommend it to EVERYONE! You MUST read/listen to this wonderful novel. 5 star narration also!

  • Julia Pearce

    This book was amazing from start to finish. The storyline weaves so perfectly together and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I fell in love with the characters and will carry their story with me forever.

Beautiful Ruins: A Novel

by Jess Walter

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Beautiful Ruins: A Novel, Jess Walter