The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch
of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in
daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea
and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white,
approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an
American starlet, and she is dying.
And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly
Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot—searching for the
mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.
What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a
novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish
set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe
Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen
unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his
long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them
together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned
fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose
appetites set the whole story in motion—along with the husbands and
wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their
world in the decades that follow. Gloriously inventive, constantly
surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating
people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to
their improbable dreams.