by Jess Walter
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Genre: Historical, Italy, Romance, Travel
Hardback: 352 pages
The dying actress arrived in his village the only way one could come directly -- in a boat that motored into the cove, lurched past the rock jetty, and bumped against the end of the pier. She wavered a moment in the boat's stern, then extended a slender hand to grip the mahogany railing; with the other, she pressed a wide-brimmed hat against her head. All around her, shards of sunlight broke on the flickering waves.
The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out 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.
Claire mulls as she drives, zombie-like — all basic animal reflex.
-chapter 2, page 24
Captured small coastal sleepy Italian town of the past (1960's) with wonderful detail. Although fictional believable with its nuances and community folklore.
Loved the varied characters that ran the gambit from locals in a small town to Hollywood celebrities.
Got me thinking of the life of celebrities and its lifestyle.
CHECK out the movie mentioned and highlighted in the book:
Screenplay by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Ranald MacDougall, and Sidney Buchman
Based on histories by: Plutarch, Suetonius and Appian
Also based on book: The Life and Times of Cleopatra by Carlo Mario Franzero
-Biography, Drama, History
Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra
Richard Burton as Mark Antony
Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar
* listened to the audio version which was excellent
* added this to my Books On The Nightstand Bingo challenge (details) - square: By an author of a different gender
* added to COYER challenge/scavenger hunt (details)
* part of my Armchair Summer Travel (details) - check it out to enter Armchair Summer Travel Book Box Giveaway
Places mentioned include: