No novelist working today has captured the contours of contemporary American life with more humor, wisdom, and generosity of spirit than Jess Walter. Now, in his most commercial novel to date, Walter offers a hilarious, yet bittersweet, fantasia set at the moment when Golden Age Hollywood was about to collapse—leaving today’s celebrity-mad culture to pick up the pieces. The story begins in 1962. As rumors begin to trickle out about chaos on the set of the multimillion-dollar epic Cleopatra, a blonde American starlet—beautiful and mysterious – appears at the Hotel Adequate View, a failing hotel on the Italian coast. A short time later, a fast-talking young publicist shows up, and with him the roguish Richard Burton, rapacious with drink. Pasquale Tursi, the young proprietor of the hotel, has no idea what to make of the publicist or of Burton. He only knows that he has fallen—hopelessly, haplessly—in love with the starlet. Fast-forward to modern day in a studio lot in Hollywood—an elderly Italian man shows up at the office of the publicist, now a legendary producer, asking after the mysterious starlet who came to his hotel fifty years before. What unfolds from there is a dazzling rollercoaster of a novel, full of Walter’s trademark unforgettable characters—from Pasquale and Dee, his mysterious beauty, to the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together, to the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers who populate their world in the decades that follow. Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, The Beautiful Ruins is pure Jess Walter—a novel full of flawed yet utterly relatable people, all of them reaching toward some impossible goal, leading us up a rocky shoreline path toward a future both distant and utterly familiar.
Listen to the Book Buzz!Kayleigh George
Senior Marketing Associate