I love reading books set in faraway lands. The second best thing to traveling is armchair traveling…and it’s sure cheaper! So, if you, like me, are not finding yourself traveling to Italy this summer, travel along with Jess Walter and his fantastic book set in Italy, Los Angeles and Seattle. Told in several different time periods, the Italy-portion of the book starts off in the early 1960s. Pasquale, a lonely Italian innkeeper, has his world turned upside-down when a beautiful American actress comes to stay in his fledgling hotel. The actress, as it turns out, is on a break from the Cleopatra (the 1963 film) set, which is filming in Rome. The actress’ stay in the small hotel changes the lives of everyone involved…including some members of the Cleopatra crew, which is how some of the story ends up in present day Los Angeles.
The Italian storyline in particular is filled with a plethora of imagery of coastal Italy. Walter, in vivid detail, describes the dilapidated hotel and the even smaller, more pathetic village it sits in. As I was reading, I felt transported to this village, just south of the Cinque Terre (very popular coastal resort towns in Italy) but not close enough to be part of that very prestigious tourist mecca. Because everyone flocks to the towns of Cinque Terre, Pasquale’s village and his hotel are practically business-free and most definitely tourist-free. With that imagery, I was able to perfectly picture the town, the hotel and the breathtaking views that the hotel overlooks.
For a good summer, beach read, you would not go wrong with Beautiful Ruins; all of the wonders and vistas of Italy without leaving home or spending a Euro!