Book of the Month: Beautiful Ruins

Creating a community of listeners is important to us at Libro.fm.

Our Book of the Month is one of the ways we like to invite listeners into an open dialogue on social media and our blog about the book, and give them a chance to join in.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to listen to Beautiful Ruins while sailing through the Mediterranean, which provided a beautiful backdrop while absorbing Jess Walter’s novel. It’s a book that has stayed with me ever since, and perhaps because of this I’ve convinced most members of the Libro team to listen to it. We’re not the only ones enjoying Beautiful Ruins this summer, because it’s a book you’ll see on a front table at your local independent bookstore.

Since it’s the perfect soundtrack it for any summer adventure—whether that be on a walk to a nearby park or a trek on the other side of the world—we decided it would be a great pick for July’s Book of the Month.

The magic of the story begins along the Cinque Terre coastline in Italy, bordered in blue by the Ligurian Sea, in a small village called Porto Vergogna. Young Pasquale Tursi works tirelessly to keep his father’s dream alive, running the Hotel Adequate View, though most of his guests arrive by accident, mistaking the sleepy fishing village for the luxurious Porto Venere. His small world takes a turn when, almost as if in a dream, Dee Moray, an American movie star, enters Pasquale’s life.  Dee has just been diagnosed with cancer, but through Pasquale’s broken English the two form a friendship. Years later, memories of Dee compel Pasquale to go to Hollywood and seek answers to the questions that have haunted him ever since.

While that is the heart of the story, it’s so much more than that. Switching between 1962 Italy and 21st-century Hollywood, with a cast of quirky characters along the way, it’s easy to get swept up in the magic of Walter’s intertwining storylines.

In an interview, Walter admits that both the hardest and most rewarding part of writing Beautiful Ruins was working with it’s many different narrative forms. It’s part of the reason why the novel is so unique. I found myself transfixed while listening to the narrator dive into a movie pitch about die-hard cannibal cowboys, then deftly switch gears and follow the sweet love story of Pasquale and Dee, while still flowing seamlessly within the overall plot.

Beautiful Ruins is not just a love story or a tale of adventure. Honestly, I can’t say that it really fits into one genre at all, yet somehow it pulls off being romantic, thrilling, and mysterious all at the same time, which is a testament to Jess Walter’s skills as a writer and Edoardo Ballerini’s as narrator. There’s a reason why Ballerini won the 2013 Audie Award (the “Oscar” of spoken word entertainment) for best Solo Narration/Male. You’re going to love this book!

Listen to a clip of the first few minutes of Beautiful Ruins in which you are introduced to the sleepy village of Porto Vergogna where Pasquale Tursi’s journey begins.


We’ve discounted Beautiful Ruins to $9.95 all month (that’s 64% off)! Visit our Beautiful Ruins page to find out more, and make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, where we will continue this dialogue throughout July.

Beautiful-Ruins3

Written by

Mark Pearson

Mark Pearson

Mark is a cofounder of Libro.fm. He lives in Seattle where he enjoys running in the rain, playing tennis when the sun makes an appearance, over and undercooking food, and reading The New York Times on paper.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *