Jess Walter’s new novel Beautiful Ruins is exactly the kind of book you hope for the ennui of midsummer days. It deftly treats love, loss and our very human failings with an indulgent smile. It’s the kind of novel where we’re allowed to believe in human decency, and not come up short. Yet there is enough tension here, cleverly intercut with humor, to more than just divert our attention.
Beautiful Ruins transports us to the Ligurian coast in 1962, to a small hamlet perched on the sea where Pasquale, the proprietor of a small pensione, The Hotel Adequate View, welcomes a beautiful, young, American actress, Dee Moray, who believes she is dying of stomach cancer.