Beautiful ruins, Jess Walter

Pasquale lives on the Italian coast, in a little village just under Cinque Terre. Since his father passed away Pasquale hopes to make a success of the family hotel by attracting American tourists. There is very little chance of that, since the village can only be reached by boat and only the inhabitants know it exists.

Still, two Americans come to the hotel. One of them is a writer who fought in Italy during the war. He comes to the hotel every year and hopes to finish his novel. So far he has finished one chapter.

The other American tourist comes on a morning in 1962. She is brought by a boat and Pasquale thinks there must be some mistake. The American lady is an actress and she was involved with the production of Cleopatra, but then she received terrible news about her health.

Some fifty years later Pasquale walks into the office of a film producer in Hollywood. He wants to find the woman he only knew for a couple of days and was never able to forget.

It is difficult to tell you more about the story, because then I could end up telling you too much. All the stories of the different people are woven together in a masterful way.
Memories, the events now, a movie-pitch, a story, a chapter from an autobiography alternate beautifully. All the storylines matter, there is not a chapter that does not fit. In the end all storylines are finished, without being artificial.

When I bought Beautiful ruins I thought it was a simple and relaxing Italian love story, but to my surprise (and joy!) this is so much more. Jess Walter writes full of humor, but most of all with love. Beautiful ruins is a layered story about the possibilities in everyone’s life, the choices you make and the regret these sometimes bring. Each life leaves something behind, sometimes only a ruin.
A very beautiful book.

Published in 2012


  1. I really enjoyed this book! I think the setting might have been my favorite part :) It made me want to go on vacation

    1. Indeed, you want to pack your bags and leave for Italy immediately! I really enjoyed this book.

      Kind regards,


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