The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks on 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.
I am definitely in the minority in regards to this book. This book seems to be hugely popular and I cannot recall reading a review that was anything less than a glowing review...but truthfully, I did not care for this book at all. I literally had to force myself to read this to the end which truthfully does not happen very often...at least with books that come highly praised and recommended.
Again and again I've read reviewers fall hopelessly in love with this book. The setting, the plot, the characters, the writing...over and over again I heard how absolutely perfect and magical the book was...but truthfully, I just didn't see it and was just bored.
Perhaps I wasn't a fan of the vertigo inducing changes between settings and characters. Maybe I wasn't a fan of the love story that never quite develops into a love story. Maybe I just felt that the whole thing was one bit cliche...whatever it was, Beautiful Ruins was true in its title. Ruins.
I feel as though I should be dodging tomatoes now.