At first glance, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter seems to be like any other cliché love story. But if you keep reading, the complexities begin appearing and, suddenly, you’re weaving in and out of time periods, discovering new sides to a never-complete story, and maneuvering unexpected twist after twist.
Unlike most novels of our time, this one digs in every raw emotion possible: exuberance, seething anger, frustration, anticipation, love, hate, and those that can’t be captured by a simple adjective.
Beautiful Ruins chronologically begins in 1962 with the filming of the 20th Century Fox film Cleopatra and revolves around the story of an unlikely pair: Pasquale, an Italian teenager, and Dee Moray, a stunning, aspiring American actress who stops by his village during the filming for Cleopatra. The novel hops back and forth to “recently” (which I just assume to be 2012), where we follow the adventures of a much-aged Pasquale, Michael Deane, a member of Cleopatra’s production staff turned famous movie director, Claire, Deane’s assistant, Shane, an aspiring Hollywood writer, and Dee. This relatively short novel is a whirlwind of plot and emotion, making it a summer read that’s not to be missed.
Written by Guest Blogger, Katherine Chang