99. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters

You know sometimes you’ll read a story that has a pretty simple plot, sort of like boys meets girl, fall in love, but they can’t have each other cause of their significant others and reunite later on.

But sometimes the way those stories are glamorized with different plot elements, extra characters and locations; that simple story doesn’t remain simple anymore!

It becomes freaking amazing!

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Waters was the type of book that I saw during multiple visits to the bookstore and each time I’d stop and stare at its colorful cover but would pass on for another book.

“All we have is the story we tell. Everything we do, every decision we make, our strength, weakness, motivation, history, and character-what we believe-none of it is real; it’s all part of the story we tell. But here’s the thing: it’s our goddamned story!”

I have said this multiple times in different blog posts but books have a way of seeking out their readers rather than the other way around.

I found this beautiful, Old Hollywood Glamour book at the Muscat International Book Fair for only 1 Omani riyal!

But the enjoyment I got from this was priceless!


The story begins in two different timelines.

“Life he thought was a blatant act of Imagination.”

It starts in 1962 in the little fictional village of Porto Vergogna, Italy where a sick Hollywood actress Dee Moray arrives one day to the small town’s only hotel and immediately the owner Pasquele Tursi falls for her beauty.

“For years it was as if I was a character in a movie and the real action would start any minute.”

Dee is set to star in Cleopatra alongside Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, but the actress is sent away by a Michael Deane who handles publicity after being diagnosed with a not-so-cancerous-cancer and decides to stay in this secluded hotel.

“A writer needs 4 things to achieve greatness Pasquale: desire, disappointment and the Sea… you have to have disappointment twice.”

They meet some trouble with other Italian Hoteliers who think Pasquele is robbing their business, Dee’s very famous lover arriving to meet her, someone dying and the American author who keeps coming back to write his war time book.

“… has anyone ever been more lovesick than a zombie, that pale, dull metaphor for love, all animal craving and lurching, outstretched arms, his very existence a sonnet about how much he wants those brains? This, too, is a love story.”

In the present, the story begins with an Old Italian gentleman arriving at Michael Deane’s studio lot to set things right of what went wrong some decades ago.

“This is what happens when you live in dreams, he thought: you dream this and you dream that and you sleep right through your life.”

With this begins, a tale of what direction the different lives involved with Dee and Pasquale take, and how their decision in 1962 came shape their future.

“some people wait forever, and only at the end of their lives do they realize that their life has happened while they were waiting for it to start.”


Okay, I know what you’re thinking, I did a bad job of providing a good summary.

And you’re right because the story is insanely complex, with tons of characters where I don’t know if I’ll do justice to them all if I miss one out.

But the way all the character are described and the writing (Oh man, the writing!) is so beautiful and capturing and engaging, that is sucks you right in the story!

You want to know what happens further, and cannot believe the twists and turns that happens to the characters.

Also, this book uses real life actors and events, in the form of Elizabeth Taylor,Richard Burton and their affair that broke marriages.

I was never interested in Old Hollywood and never felt the need to watch the movies of the 50’s and 60’s but the way the author included them, makes you feel as if all that has been written, actually happened.

There isn’t one aspect that I can lay my finger on and say “I was sold when the author described this…” because this beautiful story of falling in love with the right person at the wrong time is as complicated as falling for the wrong person at the right time!

However, there were some bits and pieces, some storylines and characters that confused me a ton and I will take the liberty to say they were unnecessary!

Also the last 50 pages or so ended so quickly as the author just rushed the ending! (Couldn’t quite get over that fact)

All in all, it was a treat to read with a few misses here and there.

Onto the basics:

  1. Rating: 4.0/5.0
  1. Favorite quote: “Sometimes what we want to do and what we must do are not the same. Pasquo, the smaller the space between your desire and what is right, the happier you will be.”
  2. Reader level: E
  3. Should you read: I guess so!
  4. Would I read it again: Probably not.

Till next time,




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