Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Porto Vergona, Italy, 1962.  Young Pasquale Tursi has come home from university in Florence after the death of his father to care for his mother in their tiny fishing village on the Italian coast.  He dreams of making his father's tiny hotel over into an elegant pensione that wealthy American tourists will flock to.  It is one morning, Pasquale standing waist deep in the bay, tossing rocks to build up the breakwall so the waves will not wash away his tiny beach, that the lovely American actress appears from the sea.  From the set of Cleopatra in Rome, Dee Moray is frail, dying, and has been sent to Porto Vergogna to wait for a man.  Pasquale is instantly in love.

Hollywood, California.  Present day.  Claire Silver is contemplating quitting her job as chief development assistant to legendary Hollywood producer Michael Deane.  Once a force to be reckoned with, Michael is a washed up relic of golden age Hollywood, and Claire spends her days listening to terrible movie pitches.  But when an elderly Italian man turns up on the lot, looking for an American actress he last saw in Italy fifty years ago, Claire believes she may have found the story she's been waiting for.

Beautiful Ruins is a tangle of interconnected stories that unfold across time and over continents that offers a glimpse at the extraordinary lives of ordinary people.  Wry, funny, heartbreaking and brutally honest, this engrossing novel will have you craving a trip to the sun-soaked cliffs of the Italian seacoast.  Stretching from the second World War to the nerve-racking and more than slightly ridiculous production lots of modern Hollywood, this surprising adventure is at its heart an epic love story you definately want in your beach bag this summer!