Blanche’s Book Club: ‘Beautiful Ruins’.

On Friday afternoon, I took my Summer Reading Log to the library to round up my last batch of signatures for the contest. It was the last day we could turn in our reading time. In six weeks, I read for 22 hours, which I feel pretty proud of.

I don’t think I’ve ever timed my reading — maybe I had to when I was in elementary school — but it was a fun experience. I wish it would’ve lasted a little longer!

The last book I timed was the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club: “Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter. Here is the book’s description from Good Reads:

The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.

And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion—along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow.

Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.

I think I saw this book on a Pinterest list… maybe. But, this definitely isn’t something I would have normally picked up if it hadn’t been for the great reviews this one had! I usually run far, far away from any book that’s not set in current times, but I’m trying to get better about that.

This one moved from past to present, but it wasn’t confusing. I actually really enjoyed it! It’s a good summer read, especially if you’re on vacation somewhere warm. Bonus points if it has a beach!

When I was looking for the book cover image for this blog post, I saw that a movie based on this book is supposedly in the works, with director David Frankel (who directed “The Devil Wears Prada). I definitely think this would be a great movie!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Blind Item” by Kevin Dickson and Jack Ketsoyan.

For more book recommendations, be sure to subscribe to the blog (look to the right) and follow me on Instagram @Orangejulius7– where I share more of my daily life. Live in the Baton Rouge area? I’m teaching a Blogging Boot Camp this September. If you don’t live in Baton Rouge, you can always schedule a Creative Session with me!

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