Friday, July 21, 2017

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

It's the kind of place one dreams about when longing to get away.  Porto Vergogna is a small fishing village in Italy.  There are a handful of houses, a place for the fisherman to cast off from and return to daily and a hotel, the Adequate View.  Pasquale is the new owner of the hotel, his father having recently died.  He has returned from school in Florence to take over the family business and he is full of plans to make this decrepit hotel a tourist attraction.  His dream is to attract American tourists as everyone knows that is the measure of success.

It is a miracle when the boat approaches.  An American tourist!  Not only an American, but an American movie actresss!  Dee Moray is in Italy as a cast member in the blockbuster Cleopatra, a movie that is making headlines even before it is finished as the press can't get enough of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and their on-again, off-again love affair that is just starting.  Dee has been sent here by one of the movie administrators.  She is very ill and is waiting there for her lover to come and help her through the illness.

Thus starts a novel that is a delight to read.  It moves across time from 1962 to the present, across continents from Italy to America to London.  Along the way are famous actors, Italian dreamers, and the men and women who come to Hollywood to try to make dreams come true.  It is about love and dreams and how we sometimes settle or find the fulfillment of our dreams in unexpected ways.  Above all, we are entranced with the characters we meet and the adventures they take us on.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

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