Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
What a beautiful book, written so beautifully! When a stunning American actress arrives at a tiny pension on a tinier island off the coast of Italy, Pasquale, the owner of the pension, cannot believe his luck. Not only does he believe his father’s dream of their hotel becoming a hot spot for Americans may actually materialize, but he is also entranced by the beauty of this American. As it happens, the American actress, Dee, of course has a story as does the naive but sincere Pasquale, but their lives are forever bound by this chance encounter. The story is told in parts, bouncing back and forth between the time they meet in Italy, in 1962, and today, when Pasquale searches for her in America. It also bounces from each of their stories to other characters that are woven into their tale, but it all works to keep the story moving and engaging.
The characters in this book are distinctive and each has a unique voice. Each of them has been affected in some way by the 2nd world war and this shadows over some of their personalities. In addition, the stories and the language of 1962 in the tiny village contrast so strikingly with those of the fast-paced action of the contemporary parts — and both are written with wit and an almost poetic rhythm. I loved the writing in this book.
And it is one of the few books that give resolution and don’t leave you hanging at the end. Thank you, Mr. Walter!