Sunday, 30 June 2013

Review of Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins is a fascinating and magical novel set between the 1960s Italy and present day Hollywood.

On a remote part of Italian coastline called Porta Vergogna, a young man is determined to run a reputable hotel, which will attract American tourists. However, the hotel that he grew up in and inherited, which is called Hotel Adequate View, is not quite a luxury establishment. When a beautiful young american actress arrives at his hotel by boat, Pasquale thinks this is the beginning of his dreams. Then, he finds out that the actress is dying and has been sent here by the producers of the Cleopatra film, in which she was due to star.

The actress is Dee Moray and Pasquale is captivated by her. Despite their language barriers the two hit it off well and Pasquale will do anything for her. Fifty years later Pasquale turns up at a Hollywood studio looking for the beautiful actress who stayed in his hotel in 1962. We then see the story unravel and have to work out what happened in the meantime. There are a lot of surprises in this book and I particularly liked the way that each character seemed to have an equal amount of time devoted to them.

I really enjoyed this story and found myself completely hooked. It is filled with humour, despite the problems faced by most of the characters. There is a lot going on in this book, but I didn't at any point feel lost or confused. I absolutely loved the description of the setting in Italy. It is a real roller coaster of a read that I didn't want to put down.

This is a wonderful book, it is romantic, moving and compelling to read. I highly recommend it.

Thank you to Penguin for sending me a copy to review.

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