Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tea & A Book - Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Beautiful RuinsBeautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I originally read this book back in December for the Winter Book Club. Since we were moving Tea & A Book from Tuesday afternoons to Saturday mornings. I wanted to pick a popular book that I knew a lot of people had read, so patrons would feel more comfortable stopping in (you know in case they wanted to join us!).

The switch didn't go smoothly. I thought I could get some computer updates done before our 11 am start time, but the last 3 computers were not updating nicely. Since just one person showed up, I apologized and asked if he wanted to stop back later and sit with me at the Ref Desk and discuss the book and he was okay with that (I love how flexible he is to changing book day/time).  At around 11:45 a woman came in and asked about the book club and we explained that we didn't really have it, but I could ask the other interested person and we could meet at 1. That worked for everyone and we held our meeting and had a really great discussion.

The biggest discussion was on the feeling of the "Hollywood Ending" for some of the characters in the book.

Here's my initial review of the book.

This was one of those books that the patrons of the library raved about, which meant that I pushed it to the bottom of my To Be Read list. I guess I’m a bit of a book snob, but the greater the reviews the longer it takes me to read a book (for the most part). I might not have read the book, if not for it being picked for the first book of the Winter Book Club.
I enjoyed the story and the characters immensely. The differing plot lines that all intertwined gave the novel a sort of soap opera feel, but it also added to the charm of the story. Seeing some of these characters at different points in their lives drives you forward to the point where the past and the present meet up. These characters are all flawed, but not one of them is flawed to the point of no redemption.
Well, except for Richard Burton, he was my favorite character. Dee Moray, has landed a small role in the movie Cleopatra, unfortunately things do not go well for her and she ends up in a little fishing village. There she meets Pasquale, the owner of the only hotel in the town. During her stay she reads a section of a book written by a World War II veteran. Dee ended up in the village because she believes she’s dying of stomach cancer. The man who sent her there is trying to hind the truth from her while he makes some plans. These events of 1962 are just pieces to a puzzle that does not get put together until decades later when Pasquale decides he needs to find Dee and solve the mystery of all those years ago.
There were some things I could have done without in this novel, like the vulgarities used by the Italian men in the fishing village. It took something away from the story (at least for me). I also felt that some of the intertwined stories could have been cut or downsized; I don’t think my understanding of the story would have changed with these sections missing. These few dislikes didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of the story.
I would highly suggest this book if you haven’t read it, I've picked it up as a Christmas gift for someone who I think would love it!
For June we are reading Palisades Park by Alan Brennert. I thought it would be a great start to summer in New Jersey!

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