Jess Walter has long been getting great reviews from bookselling friends and reviews. His latest, Beautiful Ruins, is my first foray into his books, but certainly not my last!
The novel opens with a dying actress named Dee Mornay arriving in an isolated Italian fishing village to check into the Hotel Adequate View, run by a young man with futile aspirations of running a grand resort. 50 years later, the innkeeper comes to Hollywood, and meets cynical mega-producer Michael Deane and his not-yet-cynical assistant, Claire Silver. A genuinely cinematic love story unfolds as the narrative skips back and forth. Walter does a great job drawing parallels between the small town boy straining to reach across the ocean to reach Hollywood in its golden era, and a young woman in Hollywood today straining to reach across time to do the same thing.
To Walter’s credit, the love story feels completely true and lacking the corniness that some lesser writers might add without meaning to. I’m excited to have found an author whose writing makes me so eager to read all his prior novels.