What I’m Reading | Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

I’m going to start simply by saying this:

YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK! *deep breaths*

Beautiful Ruins according to Nick Hornby is “a novel unlike any other you’re likely to read this year.” the New York Times says it is a “monument to crazy love” and the Times calls it “an ambitious, large-hearted, exhilarating novel” and they are right. The book itself is about a man who lives in Italy and he falls in love with an American movie actress (with cancer) when she comes to stay at his hotel. Fifty years later he travels to California to find this woman who he lost way back in 1962 and embarks on an epic journey to find his love. 

beautifulruins

I first bought it initially because it is set, sort of, in Italy which is my favourite country and the blurb sounded incredibly sweet, how could I not want to read something so cute!? It’s also about California and actresses which is also what made me drawn. Normally I wouldn’t read something like this (I tend to go for more ‘dark’ stuff) but I had been drawn to it for a while- probably partly because the cover was all bright colours- and I gave in.

At first I couldn’t get into it. I admit that, but having came out of reading ‘Divergent’ which is a pretty easy read for someone my age, the writing style seemed a bit difficult and slow. Since I normally like to devour books I took the slow pace as a sign of it being bad and left it on my bookshelf unread from page 21 for three or four months and I picked it up again last week when, looking through my books, I realised I had not finished a few and this was one so I resumed reading. 

Once you come at it having taken a break from reading the style of the book is actually magnificent, if anything the slow pace helps you to contemplate everything that the book throws at you and therefore makes every word feel significant. And every word is significant. If there’s one thing I like it is when a novel uses words eloquently to create a story, where no word out of thousands is wasted and it is definitely a feel I get with Beautiful Ruins. 

The chapters are also well set out following the ‘points of view’ (though not in first person- thank god) of multiple people. It starts in Italy, 1962 and then jumps to California in a time simply known as ‘recently’ to 2008, and so forth, as the story unravels not only in the ‘present’ day Los Angeles but also in the past, in Italy and America, and it tells the story of how Pasquale fell in love with a woman, and how he found her. Every time a new character is introduced the next chapter is about them, it tells their part of the story. Though I’m not going to give examples because I want you to find it out for yourself. 

I love it. Beautiful Ruins is, I have to say, Beautiful. I’m only a little over a half way, if not more, and although I’m still reading it and do not know what is going to happen yet I could not recommend it enough. This book feels like it matters. I root for the protagonist- which is rare- I adore all the characters and how they all unwittingly held a significance. It’s a book that is uplifting and devastating at the same time, a tribute to love and cinema and so much more. If there’s one book you read this year it has to be this one. 

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