Beautiful Ruins: A Novel

Beautiful Ruins: A Novel - Jess Walter Pasquale lives in the small coastal town of Porto Vergogna. His family has lived there for generations and although Pasquale enjoys his life he wants more and is working on turning his family home into a hotel. One day, while contemplating his future tennis court he sees a young woman step off a fishing boat and start up the steps to the hotel. Certain she has come to the wrong hotel and wants to continue on down the coast to the larger hotels, he greets her and she assures him that she is indeed in the right place. She is meeting someone here. Dee Moray is an actress working on Cleopatra and she is ill. That’s all Pasquale knows about this beautiful stranger. He accepts that because after all, everyone has secrets. Fast forward 50 years to present day Hollywood, and Pasquale has finally come to find out what happened to Dee Moray oh so long ago. This is where the real story of that fateful summer begins.

The book flips back and forth between 1962 Italy and present day Hollywood. Combining what several different characters know about the events that summer gives the reader the whole story … complete with some behind the scenes looks at the filming of Cleopatra and cameo appearances by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. That’s the main story, but there is a large cast of characters on the fringes of the story (almost too large) and they all tell their stories as well (almost too many stories). Near the end of the book we learn how they are all interconnected, but it is a bit a long haul getting there. Not a bad read, but I have to admit to putting it down a few times in favour of something else and then going back to it as the mood struck.