Published by Harper Collins on February 17th 2009
Genres: Fiction, General
Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxanne Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening -- until a band of gunwielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different continents become compatriots, intimate friends, and lovers.
The first Ann Patchett that I read was Run and I wasn’t crazy about it. But I kept hearing people rave about Bel Canto so I thought I would give it a spin.
“It seemed to Gen […] that never had a more uncultured group of men been taken hostage. What had they been doing all these years that no one had bothered with such an important instrument?”
I think that it goes without saying that Ann Patchett is a master at her craft. Bel Canto is beautifully written. Patchett weaves together different cultures and countries through music. There’s just a touch of magical realism in the way that Patchett brings the narrative together by slipping in and out of the perspective of different characters. But she manages to write that slippery perspective without it becoming too intimidating.
All that being said, despite the fact that this is about people being taken hostage, this book has the tendency to drag at times. Those who are not familiar with classical music or opera will probably be able to navigate the waters of musical terminology, but those who are fans will enjoy this book more for it.
For me, this book was just okay. As I said before it was well written and my previous-life interest in classical music was a pull as well, but unless you just love Ann Patchett, it wouldn’t be my first pick at a bookstore.
I put it in the book club category because I think this would appeal to a certain type of reader and there are definitely heavy themes and a lot to talk about.
What about you, Reader? Do you have a better Ann Patchett to recommend to me?