Novel Grapes: Beautiful Ruins

Book Nerds and Wine Lovers, welcome to Novel Grapes: the Online Chapter.  I hope you enjoyed Beautiful Ruins:  A Novel, by Jess Walter.  I thoroughly enjoyed the read and found all the stories to be captivating.  I cannot remember the last time I read a novel, I got so beautifully lost in the story lines and time changes and character details.  I hope you enjoyed, too! So, I started snooping online for great questions to rock the local Novel Grapes:  A Book Club with Wine this week, and I dug so much deeper into themes of love, art, identification, social pressures, fame...

Below were our favorite questions from our evening connection, grab a glass of wine and comment in the comment section and let's start a conversation:

1. The book's opening is reminiscent of a lush, epic romantic film—the beautiful dying Dee Moray steps off the boat and into Pasquale's heart. Although the book veers off new directions, is it still a love story? What kinds of love are presented in the novel? What, ultimately, does the novel have to say about love?

2.Talk about contrast between the grand Hollywood projects of the past, like Cleopatra, and the reality show that Michael Deane and Claire are producing. What does it say about our current culture or collective imaginative life? Does Jess Walter suggest a solution to what he is criticizing?

3. Michael Deane says his great epiphany was "People want what they want." What does he mean? Do you agree with him? How did that revelation shape his career?

4.What is the significance of the novel's title? (It was first used by a journalist to describe Richard Burton many years after his marriage to Taylor.) Who else, or what, are the "beautiful ruins"?

5. Let's talk about living the life you think you should be living versus really living the one you're in. And speaking about the life you should be living, who has imposed that "should"? Who has dictated the narrative of how your life should be led?

6  Shane's motto is "act as if," which seems particularly relevant to today's "social media generation." Or perhaps people have always done this. Perhaps people have always been projecting an image to others of how we want to be perceived. You can decide...

Our next book to read, get excited:  My Year with Eleanor, A Memoir by Noelle Hancock.