Beautiful Ruins

Beautiful Ruins (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Jess Walter has created a quiet modern masterpiece with his novel Beautiful Ruins. A tale that spans decades, it is, at its heart, a love story that celebrates all of the ups and downs and twists and turns of life.
The heart of this story is Pasquale Tursi, a young Italian hotel owner. It is his experience with the American actress Dee Mornay that is the foundation of the story. From Tursi's experience with Dee Mornay comes the introduction of all the characters that play a part in this story. Tursi's journey many years later to find Dee Mornay leads us into the worlds of regret, conspicuous consumption, failed lives and relationships, as well as the ups and downs of life in the story’s characters. We meet Michael Deane, a careless Hollywood vampire, Claire, his assistant, Daryl, her porn addicted boyfriend, and Shane, an overly optimistic writer who also speaks a little Italian and acts as a translator for Tursi later on.
This book explores life as not only a comedy of errors, but also our notions of intimacy and love. It makes us see that sometimes life is complicated, but love is always simple, and no complications can ever fully wash away the deepest of loves. Beautiful Ruins explores those great successes and epic failures we experience in life. In doing so, it shows us that while over time things do indeed become ruins, they can still remain beautiful, just like our lives.

--Aisha, Newark

LOVE it! I’ve got to add my two cents to the accolades that are piling up around The Beautiful Ruins. It deserves the praise and is easily one of my favorite books this year.

--Sara, Atlanta

The award-winning author of national bestseller The Financial Lives of the Poets returns with a gorgeously romantic new book. Called by Richard Russo "an absolute masterpiece" Beautiful Ruins is the story an ill-fated love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962 and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later. At turns funny and elegiac Beautiful Ruins stakes new territory for a writer of great promise and accomplishment.

--Matt, Los Angeles

Indie Next List

July 2012
In 1962, a young Italian innkeeper unwittingly ends up taking part in the Hollywood 'clean up' of a love affair on the set for the film Cleopatra. Fast forward to present day Los Angeles; Pasquale Tursi shows up at the studio of a legendary Hollywood producer to find out the fate of the actress he met so briefly, so long ago. The 'beautiful ruins' refer not only to the stunning descriptions of the Italian coastline, but also to the winding path a life can take and the sweet middle ground that we sometimes discover when our dreams don't pan out. -- Sarah Harvey, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO


The acclaimed, award-winning author of the national bestseller The Financial Lives of the Poets returns with his funniest, most romantic, and most purely enjoyable novel yet. Hailed by critics and loved by readers of literary and historical fiction, Beautiful Ruins is the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962...and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later. 

About the Author

Jess Walter is the author of the national bestseller The Financial Lives of the Poets, the National Book Award finalist The Zero, the Edgar Award-winning Citizen Vince, Land of the Blind, and the New York Times Notable Book Over Tumbled Graves. He lives in Spokane, Washington, with his family.

Praise for Beautiful Ruins…

“Why mince words? Beautiful Ruins is an absolute masterpiece.”
-Richard Russo, author of That Old Cape Magic and Empire Falls

“A novel shot in sparkly Technicolor. . . . reimagines history in a package so appealing we’d be idiots not to buy it.”
-Library Journal (starred review)

“Well-constructed…quirky and entertaining tale of greed, treachery, and love.”
-Publishers Weekly

“This is a blockbuster, with romance, majesty, comedy, smarts, and a cast of thousands. There’s lights, there’s camera, there’s action. If you want anything more from a novel than Jess Walter gives you in Beautiful Ruins, you’re getting thrown out of the theater.”
-Daniel Handler, author of Why We Broke Up and creator of Lemony Snicket

“[N]othing less than brilliant, a tour de force that crosses decades, continents, and genres, to powerful and often hilarious effect....A masterful novel of love, loss, and hard-won hope that satisfies on every level.”
-Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

“Within a page-turner of a plot, these triumphantly vulnerable characters leap off the page to take up permanent residence in your inner life. The effect is so powerful that to be untouched by Beautiful Ruins might well be like having no inner life at all.”
-Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction

“A brilliant, madcap meditation on fate. . . . Walter’s prose is a joy-funny, brash, witty and rich with ironic twists. He’s taken all of the tricks of the postmodern novel and scoured out the cynicism, making for a novel that’s life-affirming but never saccharine.”
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A marvel, an absolute gem of a beach read that is both hilarious and heartbreaking.”
-Huffington Post

“Walter vividly draws a world both tender and cutthroat, where ambition battles reality, daydreams fight doldrums and sometimes win.”

“Lyrical, heartbreaking, and funny . . . Walter closes the deal with such command that you begin to wonder why up till now he’s not often been mentioned as one of the best novelists around. Beautiful Ruins might just correct that oversight.”
-Kansas City Star

“A monument to crazy love . . . Walter [is] a believer in capricious destiny with a fine, freewheeling sense of humor.”
-New York Times

“Expertly scratches the seasonal itch for both literary depth and dazzle.”
-Entertainment Weekly

“A novel with pathos, piercing wit and, most important, the generous soul of a literary classic. . . . Walter has planted himself firmly in the first rank of American authors.”
-Boston Globe

“Beautiful . . . A shining, imaginative tale . . . Beautiful Ruins shows novelists how it is done.”
-The Plain Dealer

“A literary miracle.”
-Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air

“His [Walter’s] characters are long-suffering, prone to failure and sometimes at death’s door. But the verve and enthusiasm of this novel, from its let’s-go-everywhere structure to the comedy in the marrow of its sentences, are wholly life-affirming.”
-Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Entrancing novel…Walter’s turns of phrase are as brilliant as his plot twists, making for a compelling, fun read.”

“Beautiful Ruins is satisfying and delicate, a spectacular story of love, frustration, selfish intent, and the patience of the human heart.”
-The Stranger

“[A] high-wire feat of bravura storytelling. . . . [Walter’s] mixture of pathos and comedy stirs the heart and amuses as it also rescues us from the all too human pain that is the motor of this complex and ever-evolving novel.”
-New York Times Book Review

“A beautiful narrative . . . This writer is a genius of the modern American moment.”
-Philadelphia Inquirer

“His masterpiece . . . an interlocking, continent-hopping, decade-spanning novel with heart and pathos to burn, all big dreams, lost loves, deep longings and damn near perfect.”

“Walter is a very, very funny writer and can do Hollywood satire with the best of them. But this is also a novel with a live, beating heart, full of sympathy for its characters and agut wisdom…You’ll want to explore these Ruins.”

“It is a powerful and lush book.”
-Selman Blair, the New York Post

Product Details ISBN-10: 0061928178
ISBN-13: 9780061928178
Published: Harper Perennial
Pages: 352
Language: English