Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

by on June 10th, 2012
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter Cover Image

Beautiful Ruins is Jess Walter’s new novel set in the rocky cliffs of the “not quite” Cinque Terre in Italy and modern-day Hollywood, California.  A young and lonely Italian innkeeper is torn between life’s dreams and responsibilities.  When a beautiful American actress appears at his Inn, he envisions a dreamy future.  Unfortunately life draws him back to reality and abruptly reminds him of his commitments and responsibilities.

Fast forward to the present where Claire works for a Hollywood “has-been” producer.  She quit her PhD studies and jumped at the opportunity to work in a Hollywood studio.  Unfortunately her dreams of creating a film have collided with the reality that the producer’s productive time has passed and Claire is stuck with the daily grind of people pitching movie plots that will never go anywhere.  Everything changes one day when an elderly Italian gentleman shows up looking for a woman he met 50 years earlier in Italy.

Jess Walters weaves together a wonderful story that easily switches between 1962 and the present day.  The characters are real and readers will understand the friction between dreams and reality that each character faces.  I thought the writing was beautiful and I especially appreciated the strong sense of place Walters creates in Italy.  The Cinque Terre is on my short list of places where I want to visit, so I appreciated the opportunity to vicariously travel to Italy in the pages of this book. ~~Enjoy~~

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