Beautiful Ruins: A Novel - Jess Walter My initial reaction to finishing this audio was:
1 ½ stars- I'm so glad to finally be done with this audio

Well, it’s been some time since I’ve read this but I still feel the same way. I’m not sure if I went into this book with too high expectations, since it was very much hyped up last year. I actually acquired the audio version last year based on the constant advertisements here on GR. It took me 4 tries to finally get into it. I kept listening this last time because there was nothing else downloaded onto my iPod and I had a long commute. That will teach me!

Anyway, I found this book boring for the most part. The only parts that I enjoyed were the 1962 Italian portions, which coincidently featured Pascuale…the only character I liked. Actually, that’s not completely true. I liked all the Italian characters featured in the 1962 portions. I thought they all had a nice dynamic and provided the story with the levity and humor this story needed.

The book shifts not only time, but also viewpoints and it expands 50 years. While, the set up and shifting of time was interesting I also found it confusing, especially in audio format. There were times I didn’t know what year I was in and had to keep listening to figure it out. I also didn’t care for the various view points. Many of the characters were just so cliché and culturally stereotypical. For example, Michael Deane as a top American producer is nothing but a narcissistic, plastic surgery addict. Dee Moray as an American ex-actress is nothing, but a self centered, vapid, whiny bitch. Ugh, her constant introspection and the 'world is against me' attitude made me want to slap her. I did not see what Pascuale or any of the other men who fell in love with her saw. Most of the characters were excessively self-centered and whiny. I’m not sure if that’s what the author meant by the title “Beautiful Ruins”, but these characters were more like “Fucked Up and Whine Ruins”.

And there was just too many of them. We have Pascuale, Dee Moray, Richard Burton, Michael Deane, Claire (Deane’s assistant), Shane (I’m still trying to figure out why his story was told), Alvis and Pat Bender…that’s 8 view points and who knows who I missed. While, it does come together in the end it was just way too much. The story seemed to drag on and on and then it suddenly wrapped together neatly and quickly in the last chapter.

I’m going with 2 stars, because of GR’s lack of ½ stars. I did enjoy some of the story, but for the most part this audio was a chore to get through, especially for such a lackluster ending.