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Having been to Cinque Terre long time ago this was a lovely reminder about the uniqueness of that area. The love for the landscape and the people there shines through. As do the description of the charming but very "special" character of Los Angeles and Hollywood/Beverly Hills, another place I know fairly well. This book has to go into the top ten list of books from this decade!
I read some very glowing reviews of this novel and I admired much of the writing -- the descriptions of the Italian coastline are beautiful and some of the writing about the tranquility of the area before the 60s tourist explosion is poignant. I liked the Hollywood satire too.
The movement of the narrative in place and time was intriguing at first, although there maybe was too much variety by the end -- was the author worried about holding the audience's attention? When narratives jump around in this way, the author needs to take care not to be too cynical about withholding details from the reader purely to sustain suspense and there are instances in this novel where the narrative is a bit tricksy.
I enjoyed the book most before a point about two thirds of the way through when a revelation in the plot was revealed and the book then seemed to lose momentum -- performing a few literary hoops and turns before the denouement. And while the very ending was poignant and fitting, the 'what happened next to whom' section seemed designed to remind the reader of the author's self-regarding skill for having introduced so many characters along the way (from US GIs to failed rock singers to real film stars).
I guess it's an impressive exercise in seeing what can be spun out of a chance encounter that only lasted a few days but was remembered for a lifetime but I'd rather have seen more concentration on the relationship between the two protagonists. But the writing was exhilarating in parts so four stars.
Being a cheapskate I bought this Jess Walter paperback for less than a fiver. The print size is so small making it a task to read the work. Binned. You're better off buying a used hardback or a kindle version or better still listen to a professional narrator.
The Italian bits of this book are very atmospheric and take you back to Liguria and the Cinque Terre, fishermen sitting about and small hotels clinging to the rocks. The rest is a mixture of characters from fiction and life - a wonder that something like this can be written about someone who lived - and may well be a good description of the film world now and then. I have to say that I only persevered because of the Italian characters, to whom I was drawn. The rest was a bit fanciful I thought.
I absolutely loved the opening section and very much enjoyed reading the book as a whole although my enthusiasm waned towards the end. The Cinque Terre scenes and evocation of life in Porto Vergogna were especially good and a great counterpoint to the film world in Rome.
This book deserves all the good reviews it has received. It's a lovely little story of how disappointment can turn into something beautiful. My only criticism was a surprising research error at the end which took some of the shine off. The books ends saying Richard Burton died of a cerebral hemorrhage after failing to wake up in his hotel. Richard was at home in Celigny, Switzerland with his wife Sally, when he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in his sleep. He effectively died in his sleep at his home with his wife at his side, although technically he was still alive when he got to Geneva hospital. Am I the only person to notice this error, even though the book has been out for over a year?
This book was chosen for me as it was our book club choice. Not the usual thing that I would pick up as I am more into action / murder mystery & thriller books. But this book I thought was a delight right from the start. Set over decades from a remote disused resort on the coast of Italy to the seedy world of Los Angeles and Film making, throwing in a well known superstar actor and actress to spice things up it was a great story. Recommended!
I liked this book, which, because of the clever language, multiple POVs, eccentric, over-the-top characters and whimsical love story, reminded me of Louis de Berniere's early work. It wasn't quite as gripping but enjoyable non-the-less.
A perfect holiday read full of laughs, romance and some very engaging characters. The setting will make you want to go on holiday to the Amalfi Coast. I hope that Hollywood doesn't turn it into a drippy rom-com.