Beautiful Ruins

Beautiful Ruins

Jess Walter

First Sentence:     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.

Back of the book:

The story begins in 1962. Somewhere 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 views an apparition: a beautiful woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an American starlet, he soon learns, and she is dying.

And the story begins again today, half a world away in Hollywood, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot searching for the woman he last saw at his hotel fifty years before.

Gloriously inventive, funny, tender and constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a novel full of fabulous and yet very flawed people, all of them striving towards another sort of life, a future that is both delightful and yet, tantalizingly, seems just out of reach.

Quotes from the book:

After all these years it may be impossible to trace the sequence of facials, spa treatments, mud baths, cosmetic procedures, lifts and staples, collagen implants, outpatient touch-ups, tannings, Botox injections, cyst and growth removals, and stem-cell injections that have caused a seventy-two-year-old man to have the face of a nine-year-old Filipino girl.

‘[…] he was part of a ruined generation of young men coddled by their parents – by their mothers especially – raised on unearned self-esteem, in a bubble of overaffection, in a sad incubator of achievement.’

* * *

Last Sentence:     And even if they don’t find what they’re looking for, isn’t it enough to be out walking together in the sunlight

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