Book: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Genre: Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction
From: ebook from the library
Wow! I read an ebook from the library! Did you see that? Impressive!
It seems like I've heard a ton about this book in the past while. And that everyone seemed to rave about it, but I didn't know a thing about it. I even thought it was YA book, but no, it's far far from that! And to try and explain this book is going to be very very tricky, so let's see how I do.
This is one of those books that each chapter you never really know where you'll be, in what time you'll be, or what device is being used to tell you the story. It's about several different people and how, in the past they came together for a moment in time, a moment that changed all their lives, and how now in the present, they've come together again to finally resolve things....and all the moments in between that got them there.
So, we start out in 1962 at a remote village in Italy where the first moment I mentioned above begins. This is when an American movie star comes to this young man's hotel to rest up a bit because she is sick. And she expects to meet someone here. The young hotel guy is stricken with her right from the start and upon further investigation, he begins to discover that there is much much more to her story.
Then we flash to the present where a girl is working for this old sort of has been movie producer and how she is sick of it and sick of her live and sick of her boyfriend.
Then we meet another dude who wants to pitch his idea for a movie about the Donner party to this old producer....which eventually leads us to a flashback to the Donner party story itself.
Then we go back and forth between those two times, but then we meet several other characters, and bounce to their stories one in Scotland, and one who wrote a book about his WWII experiences, which is included and we then get to read.
Whew. At first it's a bit head spinning, but then you get very much used to all the moving around and it's not hard to make the connections. The characters are awesome.. especially the Italian hotel guy who I totally loved and was rooting for.
The story is beautifully written and so moving and powerful. I loved it. There were some crass and harsh moments, depending on which character you were following at the time, but not enough to bother me much.
There are so many moments in history touched upon here! I sometimes thought the author just put in every little passion he had about anything in this book....movie stars, WWII, Donner party, Italy, play writing, cabins in Idaho, etc. etc. It pretty much has it all!
The ending is sweet and I loved how there was a little blurb about all the different people and stories you come in touch with during the course of the book so we knew how everyone did in the end. That was great.
Bottom line: I really really liked this one. It was fun to read something different from what I'm normally reading.
It is the very best type of an ensemble of characters who can only exist because of the others. From That's What She Read
Bottom line, it is just a great story, well told, with a message that will sneak up on you, right up until it hit you in the face. From A Lovely Shore Breeze
It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it masterpiece of many intricate stories, and the setting made me feel like I could step in and share a glass of wine with the motley Italian crew. From Write Meg!
If you are wondering what any of this has to do with Mother's Day, we'll tell you this:Beautiful Ruins is, on one level, the heart-achingly honest story of the sacrifices a mother makes for her children. There is no second-guessing, no hesitation. A mother is everything. From A Reader's Respite