I…kind of liked this book. It was…okay. Overall, the annoying/dull parts ended up getting balanced with the interesting parts, so it kind of ended up being average. Appropriate for a novel where one of the main characters owns a hotel called “The Adequate View”.
“Then she smiled, and in that instant, if such a thing were possible, Pasquale fell in love, and he would remain in love for the rest of his life–not so much with the woman, whom he didn’t even know, but with the moment.”
A lot happens in this books. We start in the 1960s in Italy, where a young man named Pasquale falls instantly in love with an American actress named Dee Moray who has come to convalesce after a cancer diagnosis (it’s not cancer — it’s a baby and she’s rather naive). Two people have created this situation for her — a PR dude named Deane and an actor you may have heard of: Richard Burton. They whisk her away, and Pasquale mourns his lost love. Italy also features a storyline starring Alvis Bender, who started a novel about the war 10 years ago, but has only written a chapter (that one chapter, however? probably my favorite part of the whole damn book). Fast forward to present day, and we have Deane’s assistant, Claire Silver, who hates her job, and Shane Wheeler, who has come to L.A. to pitch a movie about the Donner party (…yeah). They get introduced to the whole Dee Moray thing by an aging Pasquale, and the hunt for the actress gets resumed.
A lot going on, right? And I left a lot out — Pasquale’s mother, evil gangsters trying to shut down his hotel, Claire’s stupid boyfriend, Shane’s ex, Deane’s plastic surgery, etc. Plus what happens to Dee’s pregnancy, and everything that comes from that. All this extra bogs down the good stuff: Pasquale’s (very, very brief) romance with the American, and Alvis Bender, whose war story outshines any of the rest. Still, if you can get past the extraneous plotlines (or maybe you’ll enjoy them more than I did), Walter did bury a pretty good story here.