The following questions for Beautiful Ruins were composed by our member, Julie. We freely share our original discussion questions, but please consider including a credit and link to our website.
- Other hoteliers named Porto Vergogna, “the whore’s crack,” but Pasquale believed that his town could flourish. Should you always follow your dreams? Is there a point when you should give them up? Have you had dreams that you followed or gave up?
- When his father died and Pasquale begged his mother to leave, she said,“What kind of wife would I be if I left your father simply because he died?” How does love, sacrifice, and death play a part in this book?
- “Short, jug-eared, and dull-eyed, he carried himself in a manner that often suggested brain damage to tourists, who were so impressed by this slack-eyed simpleton’s ability to operate a motorboat that they tipped him lavishly. Orenzio, in turn, surmised that the duller he behaved, and the less English he mastered, the more he would be paid.” Orenzio’s description is an example of humor throughout the novel. What are other examples of humor?
- The author says Pasquale waited—as he always had—for life to come and find him. Shane tattooed and had faith in his father’s motto, ACT. Compare how these attitudes affected their lives. Did Shane’s aggressive outlook bring him further ahead in life?
- Fatherhood and how it affects sons weaves in and out of the pages. Discuss examples of how fathers influenced their sons. How are the male characters depicted versus the female characters?
- What did you think of Michael Deane? He orchestrates the lives of those who cross his path while claiming to only be providing what they really want; not what they say they want. By the end of the book, did the characters get what they really wanted? And how did Michael Deane influence their lives?
- On stage in the UK, Pat tells his audience, “If I had a theme, you know...a philosophy? A motto? Mine would be: there must be some mistake; I was supposed to be bigger than this.” Which characters had the drive to be famous and how did it impact their lives? Is being a somebody better than being a nobody?
- Antonia told Pasquale that “the smaller the space between your desire and what is right, the happier you will be.” How did following this advice help him find happiness? What was your reaction when Pasquale left Dee and proclaimed his son?
- Discuss the reunion of Dee and Pasquale. Dee asks Pasquale, “what took you so long?” To which Pasquale answers, “I’m sorry. There was something important I had to do.” Is true love timeless?
- The first sentence in the final chapter begins with Michael Deane proclaiming “This is a love story.” The chapter then reveals the stories of most of the characters in the book, ending with Pasquale and Dee. Discuss how their stories are lives, as the title suggests, of beauty and ruins.
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Beautiful Ruins discussion questions by Julie are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.