1960’s Hollywood Glamor in Central Italy
By Jess Walter
Harper, $25.99, 337 pages
Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins will pull you right in. The year is 1962 and Cleopatra is being filmed in Rome with Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, and supporting actress, Dee Moray. Richard has a wandering eye and gets involved with Dee. The producer, Michael Deane, is quick to rid the set of Dee by sending her several hours away to an almost deserted fishing town in Cinque Terre, Italy. Pasquale, the innkeeper of Hotel Adequate View, readily accepts the young starlet into his hotel. Pasquale is a twenty-year old man who just moved home to take care of his mother after his father’s death. The innkeeper instantly falls in love with Dee. The actress is taken away almost as quickly as she showed up and Pasquale and Dee wonder if the entire time was a figment of their imagination.
The story introduces you to a cast of characters all with their own stories and challenges. The books chapters go from 1962 to present day and Walter is adept at making this work. If you have ever struggled with doing what you want versus what is right, this book will pose some interesting perspectives for you. You will be entertained by both the 1960’s and present day Hollywood, small village life in Italy, and characters that grapple with secrets, desires and ambitions. This is a must read!
By Seniye Groff