Beautiful Ruins

Beautiful Ruins

3.8 312
by Jess Walter
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

The acclaimed, award-winning author of the national bestseller The Financial Lives of the Poets returns with his funniest, most romantic, and most purely enjoyable novel yet. Hailed by critics and loved by readers of literary and historical fiction, Beautiful Ruins is the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in

See more details below

  • Checkmark Reading Group Favorites  Shop Now

Overview

The acclaimed, award-winning author of the national bestseller The Financial Lives of the Poets returns with his funniest, most romantic, and most purely enjoyable novel yet. Hailed by critics and loved by readers of literary and historical fiction, Beautiful Ruins is the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962...and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later. 

Editorial Reviews

Richard Russo
“Why mince words? Beautiful Ruins is an absolute masterpiece.”
Daniel Handler
“This is a blockbuster, with romance, majesty, comedy, smarts, and a cast of thousands. There’s lights, there’s camera, there’s action. If you want anything more from a novel than Jess Walter gives you in Beautiful Ruins, you’re getting thrown out of the theater.”
Ben Fountain
“[N]othing less than brilliant, a tour de force that crosses decades, continents, and genres, to powerful and often hilarious effect....A masterful novel of love, loss, and hard-won hope that satisfies on every level.”
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
“Within a page-turner of a plot, these triumphantly vulnerable characters leap off the page to take up permanent residence in your inner life. The effect is so powerful that to be untouched by Beautiful Ruins might well be like having no inner life at all.”
Maureen Corrigan
“A literary miracle.”
Selman Blair
"It is a powerful and lush book."
Nashville Scene
Beautiful Runs is itself a showcase for Walter’s outrageous literary gifts in virtually every genre and style. . .No wonder critics have been outdoing each other with superlatives. . .”
Paula McLain
“[An] enchanting novel. . . Sweeping effortlessly back and forth between Italy and current-day Hollywood, and between various modes of storytelling, Walters builds a world that won’t soon let you go.”
Becky Aikman
“Combines satisfying, old-fashioned storytelling with a modern sensibility.”
People Magazine
"Entrancing novel…Walter’s turns of phrase are as brilliant as his plot twists, making for a compelling, fun read."
Selma Blair
“It is a powerful and lush book.”
People
“A great getaway of a novel.”
Interview
“Walter vividly draws a world both tender and cutthroat, where ambition battles reality, daydreams fight doldrums and sometimes win.”
Huffington Post
“A marvel, an absolute gem of a beach read that is both hilarious and heartbreaking.”
Kansas City Star
“Lyrical, heartbreaking, and funny . . . Walter closes the deal with such command that you begin to wonder why up till now he’s not often been mentioned as one of the best novelists around. Beautiful Ruins might just correct that oversight.”
New York Times
“A monument to crazy love . . . Walter [is] a believer in capricious destiny with a fine, freewheeling sense of humor.”
Entertainment Weekly
“Expertly scratches the seasonal itch for both literary depth and dazzle.”
Boston Globe
“A novel with pathos, piercing wit and, most important, the generous soul of a literary classic. . . . Walter has planted himself firmly in the first rank of American authors.”
The Plain Dealer
“Beautiful . . . A shining, imaginative tale . . . Beautiful Ruins shows novelists how it is done.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“His [Walter’s] characters are long-suffering, prone to failure and sometimes at death’s door. But the verve and enthusiasm of this novel, from its let’s-go-everywhere structure to the comedy in the marrow of its sentences, are wholly life-affirming.”
The Stranger
Beautiful Ruins is satisfying and delicate, a spectacular story of love, frustration, selfish intent, and the patience of the human heart.”
New York Times Book Review
“[A] high-wire feat of bravura storytelling. . . . [Walter’s] mixture of pathos and comedy stirs the heart and amuses as it also rescues us from the all too human pain that is the motor of this complex and ever-evolving novel.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“A beautiful narrative . . . This writer is a genius of the modern American moment.”
Salon
“His masterpiece . . . an interlocking, continent-hopping, decade-spanning novel with heart and pathos to burn, all big dreams, lost loves, deep longings and damn near perfect.”
Newsday
“Walter is a very, very funny writer and can do Hollywood satire with the best of them. But this is also a novel with a live, beating heart, full of sympathy for its characters and agut wisdom…You’ll want to explore these Ruins.”
The New York Times
As with any story that relies on scrambled chronology, it's worth wondering how Beautiful Ruins would work as a straightforward narrative. Not as well. Moments of confusion would vanish, but so would the magic. Mr. Walter…has always been more intuitive than linear, a believer in capricious destiny with a fine, freewheeling sense of humor. The deeply romantic heart of Beautiful Ruins is better expressed by constant circling than it would by any head-on approach.
—Janet Maslin
The Washington Post
With lively prose, sharp transitions and an entertaining cast of characters, Walter constructs a lemon meringue pie of a novel, crisp and funny on top, soft and gooey in the middle…Adept at mixing flavors and textures, Walter whips together dying beauty, enduring love, war-shadowed Italy, haunting landscapes, veiled identity.
—Allegra Goodman
The New York Times Book Review
…Walter is simply great on how we live now, and—in this particular book—on how we lived then and now, here and there. Beautiful Ruins is his Hollywood novel, his Italian novel and his Pacific Northwestern novel all braided into one: an epic romance, tragicomic, invented and reported…magical yet hard-boiled…His balanced mixture of pathos and comedy stirs the heart and amuses as it also rescues us from the all too human pain that is the motor of this complex and ever-evolving novel. Any reservations the reader might have about another book about Hollywood, about selling one's soul (or someone else's, and pocketing the change) will probably be swept aside by this high-wire feat of bravura storytelling. Walter is a talented and original writer.
—Helen Schulman
Publishers Weekly
“Well-constructed…quirky and entertaining tale of greed, treachery, and love.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A brilliant, madcap meditation on fate. . . . Walter’s prose is a joy-funny, brash, witty and rich with ironic twists. He’s taken all of the tricks of the postmodern novel and scoured out the cynicism, making for a novel that’s life-affirming but never saccharine.”
Library Journal
Take one part sun-drenched Italian coastal village and mix in two parts Hollywood studio back lot. Add a larger-than-life cast of characters and cameo appearances by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Stir in unbearable sadness tempered with a sprinkling of hilarity, then whisk in sharp observations about human nature shared via a piercing wit and lush turns of phrase. Bake in an oven set to span 50 years. The result is Jess Walter’s wonderful Beautiful Ruins (Harper: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061928123. $25.99), which delightfully captures the heartbreak and joy of fascinating and flawed people experiencing love and loss through life’s fleeting moments.

(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
Hollywood operators and creative washouts collide across five decades and two continents in a brilliant, madcap meditation on fate. The sixth novel by Walter (The Financial Lives of the Poets, 2009, etc.) opens in April 1962 with the arrival of starlet Dee Moray in a flyspeck Italian resort town. Dee is supposed to be filming the Liz Taylor-Richard Burton costume epic Cleopatra, but her inconvenient pregnancy (by Burton) has prompted the studio to tuck her away. A smitten young man, Pasquale, runs the small hotel where she's hidden, and he's contemptuous of the studio lackey, Michael Deane, charged with keeping Dee out of sight. From there the story sprays out in multiple directions, shifting time and perspective to follow Deane's evolution into a Robert Evans-style mogul; Dee's hapless aging-punk son; an alcoholic World War II vet who settles into Pasquale's hotel to peck away at a novel; and a young screenwriter eagerly pitching a dour movie about the Donner Party. Much of the pleasure of the novel comes from watching Walter ingeniously zip back and forth to connect these loose strands, but it largely succeeds on the comic energy of its prose and the liveliness of its characters. A theme that bubbles under the story is the variety of ways real life energizes great art--Walter intersperses excerpts from his characters' plays, memoirs, film treatments and novels to show how their pasts inform their best work. Unlikely coincidences abound, but they feel less like plot contrivances than ways to serve a broader theme about how the unlikely, unplanned moments in our lives are the most meaningful ones. And simply put, Walter's prose is a joy--funny, brash, witty and rich with ironic twists. He's taken all of the tricks of the postmodern novel and scoured out the cynicism, making for a novel that's life-affirming but never saccharine. A superb romp.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061928178
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/02/2013
Series:
P.S.
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
337
Sales rank:
32,370
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

Selman Blair

“It is a powerful and lush book.”

Ben Fountain

“[N]othing less than brilliant, a tour de force that crosses decades, continents, and genres, to powerful and often hilarious effect....A masterful novel of love, loss, and hard-won hope that satisfies on every level.”

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

“Within a page-turner of a plot, these triumphantly vulnerable characters leap off the page to take up permanent residence in your inner life. The effect is so powerful that to be untouched by Beautiful Ruins might well be like having no inner life at all.”

Daniel Handler

“This is a blockbuster, with romance, majesty, comedy, smarts, and a cast of thousands. There’s lights, there’s camera, there’s action. If you want anything more from a novel than Jess Walter gives you in Beautiful Ruins, you’re getting thrown out of the theater.”

Maureen Corrigan

“A literary miracle.”

Richard Russo

“Why mince words? Beautiful Ruins is an absolute masterpiece.”

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >