Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

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Spanning 50 years and several continents, there is so much going on in this one that I’ll look to Goodreads for help with a description:

A love affair between movie stars and a short stay in a remote fishing village in Italy set in motion a train of events “that effect 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.”

Drawn in by its oh-so-hip cover, my friend Alex and I picked this one out to read together. She read it first and told me it was terrible so I was reluctant to start. My thoughts: a masterpiece? Certainly not. Terrible? I beg to differ.

This is what I would (complementarily) call the quintessential beach read: easy, engaging, a definite page turner. I can already imagine the film version (Emma Stone as the lead of course).

At times, the narrative does feel a little jam-packed – lots of characters, timelines, and locations. But I never felt lost or bogged down in too much detail. On the contrary, the multiple intersecting storylines kept me interested – if you get bored with one character don’t worry because you’re soon on to the next!

My biggest criticism would have to be the fictionalisation of Richard Burton – I feel like its a bit unfair to turn a real person into a character to be used and abused by the story. Couldn’t Walter have given us a fake movie star who the reader understands is Richard Burton-esque? Am I being too picky here?

Although this won’t go down as one of my top reads of 2017 it was a fun ride and should be appreciated as such. A good go-to when your reading brain needs light and easy.

 

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