I don’t read a lot of literary fiction, but the title of this book caught my eye. When I learned the story took place in Italy, I decided to give it a try. And, I am glad I did. It was one of my favorite reads this year, and for good reason. Kudos to Jeff Walter for writing such a great novel.
What I loved most about the book is its central theme—the difficulty (or perhaps the impossibility) in aligning actions with desires.
And I think the title tells it all—Beautiful Ruins. Most people’s lives are in ruins because of their decisions and the decisions of others. But that is really what makes life beautiful. If life is nothing but a peaceful river, it doesn’t have much of a purpose. The key is to find the beauty in the ruins—because there will always be ruins.
The novel is filled with so many people trying to live their conception of a perfect life. Not surprisingly, life just doesn’t turn out like they think it should. But after years of struggle, they each learn in their own way not to worry about it.
Enjoy the ruins, because if you have ever been to Rome, you will see they are quite beautiful. And perhaps even more beautiful is the idea embodied in the last sentence of the book—a nice walk in the sun with an old friend.