Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Beautiful Ruins

Beautiful RuinsBeautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A couple weeks ago a friend told me that Jess Walter's "Beautiful Ruins" was the book of the summer.  I walked straight to Barnes & Noble after we finished lunch to buy it. The man at the checkout counter said that all sorts of people had been buying this book. After all, it combines Italy in the 1960s with Hollywood then and now. It deals with love, disappointed expectations, responsibilities, movie magic, tragedy - the whole gamut of human drama.

And yet, it's not love for me. There wasn't that soft glow of a movie camera telling the story. Instead it was a glaring look at human frailty and failings. There were beautiful details and uncanny characterization. But just the same way that I want some of the girls to wake up on Mad Men and demand that their men treat them better, I could not get past the crass and the sad realities. Sometimes I want my stories to just be stories. I don't want to feel like these disappointments could have really happened.

All that said, I think I would still recommend it if you are an avid reader or you love the movies. I told my grandmother it was a must read because she lived through the drama that was Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. And the way that this book comes together at the end is surprisingly fulfilling after what was at times a very frustrating read. How's that for a contradictory review?!

Happy reading.

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