Just the (Italian) job this summer



Italian coastline! Glamorous movie stars! Romance! Everything you need from fantastically written, modern, summer fiction can be found right here in Jess Walter’s exquisite, rich story, Beautiful Ruins. In his book he takes us to the coast of Italy and to Rome, with brief stop offs in Idaho, England and Scotland before concluding half a century later in Hollywood.

Set mostly in a remote Italian fishing port in 1962, we meet Pasquale, a young man with big dreams but only a small forgotten hotel (amusingly called The Hotel Adequate View) to show for them. A beautiful young American actress mistakenly comes to his hotel (from the movie set of Cleopatra with Burton and Taylor) to hide from the world, convinced she is dying. Fate, circumstance and a langauge barrier seek to block a promising romance between the actress and the unassuming hotellier as she faces up to the real cause of her illness and he questions everything that has gone before. From there a fabulous tale unfurls featuring flawed characters, crazy romance and scenic landscapes spanning  fifty years and two continents.

This is a book where the many stars of the story stay in your thoughts in between readings. I really couldn’t wait to get back to them or turn the pages fast enough to discover what happens in this constantly and brilliantly surprising book. To go into further detail about the characters and how their stories weave together through fact and fiction would be to deny you the pleasures hidden in this twisting tale. I found it deeply moving but not without a sense of humour.

Much more than your average beach read. I cannot wait to discover Jess Walter’s previous work.


Notes on the author – Jess Walter

  • Jess Walter is the author of six novels and one non fiction book
  • Born in and still lives in Washington, USA
  • Earlier this year he released a new collection of stories titled “We live in water”

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