Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Richard Burton is in Italy working on Cleopatra. We all know how that story goes. But this is the story of a young woman, Dee, who played one of the handmaidens to Cleopatra in the film and how her relationship with Burton changes her life forever. Sick, and unable to work, she is sent by the film company to recuperate at the Hotel Adequate View in a small Italian coastal village. There she meets Pasquale, and her story makes him rethink his life. Fast forward to the present and Pasquale comes to America to find Dee and see what has become of her after she left Italy.
Told in narrative, flashbacks, chapters of a novel (within the novel) and excerpts of plays this is a complex creatively told tale of love, obligation, genes and the unpredictability of life. I must admit I was expecting something light and fluffy. Instead I got a literary love story (of a sort) that made me a little sad. But it is definitely staying with me and will for quite some time.