I had high hopes for our June Book Club book, Beautiful Ruins: A Novel by Jess Walter, and have been wanting to read it for a very long time. I just hadn’t picked it up and when it was chosen for our June book, I was happy to finally see what everyone was talking about. It starts out in a tiny coastal village. Porto Vergogna, in Southern Italy in the 1960’s. Pasquel, the owner of the village’s one small hotel, The Hotel Adequate View, has visions of creating a destination and resort for tourists that rivals the towns surrounding them. Unfortunately, the port is hidden away among the rocks and only really accessible from the sea. They have only had one guest stay, Alvis Bender an American writer, who comes for two weeks every year and then as the narrative begins, their second guest an American Actress, Dee Moray, arrives.
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Just as we learn more about Dee, Alvis Bender and Pasquale, the book jumps to present day and a cast of characters that weave us back to Dee and Pasquale. I felt it was confusing going between many different story lines and some of it wasn’t very interesting or fun to read. Some of the characters were not really necessary and I am not sure why we need to delve into their back stories as much as we did. Luckily, the story did circle back and tie up all the lose ends and it made sense at the end. It was not a total disaster, but I had to really keep at it and not just return the book to the library. As for the book club, I believe only one person really liked it and the others either stopped reading it or plowed through like I did but didn’t like it. I would give it a 2 out of 5 stars.