Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I'm glad I made it to the end. If it had not been a selection for one of my book clubs, I would have quit somewhere in the middle.
I had no problem with going back and forth through time from present day California, to World War II Italy. The problem was finding a character I could care about. Too many vulgar men making a wreck of their lives, too many women with no self-respect. And the story was going in so many directions, too much repetition. How many times did we have to read about the young actress going to Porto Vergogna by mistake when she probably meant to go to Portovenere. How many times did we read about the writer who went to Italy every year to write a novel that never materialized.
In between there were the tabloid stories of Liz and Dick and their romances while filming Cleopatra, and a movie producer bargaining to stay in business.
The pitch chapters were garbage as far as I'm concerned. Donner! really? And The Rejected First Chapter of Michael Deane's Memoir More repetition. And the big fight scene...PUHLEEZ!! I was begging for somebody to come and get me out of my misery. And the pages and pages of wrapping up the lives of EVERY character in the book, including the guy whose only contribution to the story was getting shot in the foot, and the Germans we never saw hiding out in the bunker.
But I'm a good book club member. I almost ALWAYS read the whole book. And that son-of-a-gun tricked me. My Kindle said I was at 94% complete when the story ended. AHHH Relief! There were more pages of Acknowledgements and Insights, etc. for me to skim...and I do mean skim.
But there was a good part. It was the ending, sweet and beautifully written about the only two people in the book I really cared about. That much was worth the two stars.
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