Monday 28 October 2013

Beautiful Ruins

Finished October 13
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

This story begins in 1962 in a small Italian village, Porto Vergogna, a village accessible only by boat or a difficult path from the cliffs above. A young American starlet, Dee Mornay, arrives and the young innkeeper, Pasquale is stunned by this development. No one comes to the village, with the exception of an American car salesman, Alvis Bender, who is trying to write a book, and who served in Italy during World War II as a young man and the men controlling hotel interests in other nearby villages don't like this development. Dee Mornay has apparently been sent there by Michael Deane, a man associated with the movie shoot of Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. But when the visit that Dee is expecting does not arrive and her diagnosis of stomach cancer is questioned, Pasquale goes to Rome to find answers.
The story continues in the present day, when Michael Deane is producing reality television, and his assistant Claire Silver is trying to find a script that will draw him back to movies. With a hopeful playwright who knows Italian, and a man trying to find a woman from his past, the stories come together in a remarkable way.
There are all kinds of subtleties here as well. With the village name's English translation being Port of Shame, and the theme of jealousy arising throughout, this is a novel of chances, of love lost and regained. There is humour and sadness, and surprises throughout. A wonderful read.

1 comment:

  1. Jess Walter is an author I enjoy. This one is going on the Christmas list! Thanks!