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Beautiful Ruins

Beautiful Ruins - I don’t know at what point in 2013 that it hit me – I was falling head over heels back into the world of adult literary fiction. Maybe it was the realization that Oprah’s Book Club was becoming filled with duds that left me on the path to young adult fiction again after skipping it as a teen and moving straight to epic fantasy. I mean, Oprah, A MILLION LITTLE PIECES. Were you serious about that or did you know in advance that James Frey was a hack that you could turn into a television spectacular? Because that book was just one big fat—Okay, I know, I just got off topic.BEAUTIFUL RUINS is a book that came to me in a peculiar way. I found out the amazing Todd Field had signed on to write and direct an adaptation, and being the Todd Field fan I am, I just had to read it. I went out, found a copy at my used bookstore, and dove into this tale that spans decades, continents, and lives. It’s a convoluted mess of people and places and things, but BEAUTIFUL RUINS ends up being a strange little creature – a book that almost succeeds 100% at combining a thousand tiny threads into an intricate tapestry of beauty. Almost.A SOMETIMES CONVOLULTED MESS – BUT AMAZINGBEAUTIFUL RUINS follows more characters than I can count, with focuses on a young Hollywood assistant in current times who is disillusioned with her job, a hotel owner in a rundown town in 1960s Italy, and a recovering addict trying to navigate his own impulses and family between 2008 and now. On top of these characters, we have a number of characters who you might call main characters – different characters, different ages, different places in their lives. The thing that ties them all together is the story of a young hotelier and the dying actress who lands at his hotel in a sleepy fishing village. His story, and the resulting chaos that ensues, is funny, heartwarming, strange, and anger-inducing, not for the writing but for the events which transpire to affect the lives of everyone involved.I think I sympathized most with Claire, our jaded assistant in Hollywood that has realized that maybe her dreams are never going to pan out. Who hasn’t felt this? Her job interview with the Scientologists cracked me up, though, because I just had a feeling that there was something shady about this amazing sounding job as head of a museum.CONFUSING TIMESAt times, though, BEAUTIFUL RUINS is very confusing, and I have trouble seeing how this could possibly be a movie. There are multiple main characters, multiple ages for certain characters, two continents, multiple locations in different countries, threads that swing back and forth, different languages, elaborate sets (I mean, part of the film takes place on the set of Cleopatra after all). But I want to see this movie happen. I really do. It will either be the best movie ever or the worst.I just wish that maybe it had been more focused with certain threads eliminated, such as the character of Pat and his adventures to England and Scotland. I just didn’t see how it was important.“His life was two lives now: the life he would have and the life he would forever wonder about.” But this story is definitely a must read. While it doesn’t have the usual crossover appeal I look for on the blog, it does have appeal and a cast of youthful characters who just aspire to something greater, only to let their lives fall into ruins as they watch their dreams drift away. But the end? It’s beautiful.VERDICT: Although confusing and convoluted, jam-packed with characters and places and times, BEAUTIFUL RUINS is a remarkable novel that I can’t help but strongly recommend.