Beautiful Ruins Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Beautiful Ruins

It's 1962 and Pasquale Tursi was living a quiet boring life in Porto Vegongna Village managing his small hotel sitting on a cliff overlooking a beach only 2 fishing boats could land. He hoped to one day add a tennis court and make it a real resort. One day he gets a real guest. An American actress arrives, quiet, slim, beautiful and alone. She speaks broken Italian and Pasquale speaks little English but they manage to communicate. She tells him she is sick and needs rest. Her name is Dee Moray. She keeps to herself, always looking off shore, waiting. Pasquale and Dee become close, sharing stories of their pasts and going for long walks. Dee finds a partially written book to read in her room written by a former guest, Alvis Bender.
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After a few weeks, she gets very sick and the doctor comes to check her. The studios that sent her there told her she may have cancer, when in reality she is pregnant. Pasquale finds out what film she was on, Cleopatra filming in Rome with Liz Taylor and Richard Burton so he goes there to find who is responsible for Dee and her condition. He finds the director, Michael Deane and Richard Burton. Deane tries to pay him off and give some money to Dee to get an abortion and Burton admits he is the father of the baby. When they arrive back at the Hotel Adequate View, Burton is drunk and Dee is gone to another hotel.

Soon after, Alvis comes back to the hotel where he has been coming for eight years to finish writing his book. Pasquale tells him how much Dee liked his book. At the same time, Deane and Burton show up looking for Dee. They say she isn't in Switzerland getting an abortion and not back on the set. They leave but not before Michael Deane gives Pasquale his business card and writes on the back to Dee, "Tell her Deane knows what she wants." And they leave. Somehow this makes Pasquale want to make amends with his girlfriend that had his son, so he goes to see her. They marry and have 3 children.

Present Day - Michael Deane is on his way out of 20th Century Fox. They have had it with his bad choices in movies and are trying to get rid of him. His assistant has set up a couple of appointments for him - a new aspiring writer Shane Wheeler from Oregon to pitch an idea and an unknown, Pasquale Tursi. While they are waiting for Deane, Tursi and Shane speak in broken Italian. Pasquale tells him his story of Dee and the baby and how he had cared for her and was hoping Michael Deane could help him find her. He had had only one post card from her after the baby was born and she named him Pat. It' been over 40 years! Michael arrives, annoyed but listens to the pitch by Shane about The Donner Pass and Cannibals and loves it. When he listens to Pasquale, all the past comes back. He is intrigued. He wants to find Dee and her child so he hires a private investigator.
The private investigator finds Dee, now going by her real name Debra Bender, living in Sandpoint Idaho. There she had done some acting and teaching. Her son Pat has been a drunk, a drug addict and tried to get a band going. He had lived in London but was back in Idaho taking care of his mom, this time really sick with cancer. Debra had met Alvis in Seattle when she had the baby, they married and had a successful car dealership until he was killed right in front of her in a car crash, hit by a drunk driver.

Michael, his assistant, Shane and Pasquale all go to Sandpoint to see Debra and her son. They first went to see the small community play with Pat in it written by his girlfriend. Michael loved it, wanted to buy all the rights to it. They finally get to Debra's house, she is shocked to see them. She is happy to see Pasquale but cold to Deane, telling him she thought maybe he came to apologize to her. He starts to say something about the baby and his father, but Debra stops him. Pat does not know who is father is. She takes Pat into another room and tells him the whole story. Deane leaves after making deal to buy play, it turns out to be a huge success. Shane manages to get many writing jobs, but still never got his movie made.

Debra and Pasquale leave on a three week trip back to Italy. And of course back to see the now vacant and ruined Hotel Adequate View.
Best part of story, including ending: The book starts out a little slow and jumps from past to present but after it gets the plot going, it was fun to read.

Best scene in story: I really like the ending when Pasquale and Debra go back to Italy, knowing she was going to die soon.

Opinion about the main character: I really liked Pasquale because he never forgot the girl he had fallen for over 40 years ago and thought he would probablenever see again. He always had her in his heart and finally found her.

The review of this Book prepared by Kathy Ediss a Level 2 American Robin scholar

Chapter Analysis of Beautiful Ruins

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   2000+ (Present Day) Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Struggle over    -   search for family/history Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Pregnancy/Child rearing    -   Yes Major part of story:    -   dealing with unexpected pregnancy

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   small businessman Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   Italian


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   4 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   West Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   Italy Misc setting    -   resort/hotel

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Jess Walter Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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