Monday, June 05, 2006

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

This was the Bookclub book for May over at The Book Bitches. I finished it a little late because I was listening to it, and because I am catching the train to work these days and reading books, I no longer get through the audiobooks I have anywhere near as quickly!

Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. Roxanne Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening -- until a band of gun-wielding terrorists breaks in through the air-conditioning vents and takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different countries and continents become compatriots.
Without the demands of the world to shape their days, life on the inside becomes more beautiful than anything they had ever known before. At once riveting and impassioned, the narrative becomes a moving exploration of how people communicate when music is the only common language. Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion and cannot be stopped.

You know...the blurb on this one tells enough to make it interesting!

The main characters in this novel are Roxanne Coss (the opera singer), Mister Hosakawa (the opera fan), Gen (his interpreter) and Carmen (one of the terrorists), however there are several other characters that take a turn in the spotlight.

Whilst the pace of this book is ponderous at times, the writing is beautiful, and you can feel the book moving to an inevitably crashing crescendo. The hostage situation has been ongoing for many months, and whilst for the people within the compound that life has settled into a pleasant routine with music and football as part of the life they have become accustomed to, as far as the world outside is concerned the situation cannot continue.

If there was one thing that I didn't like it was the Epilogue, which certainly tied up a couple of loose ends, but in a way that was almost against the flow of the relationships that happened throughout the rest of the book.

If you are looking for a book to meander through, then this could be one for you!

Rating 3.5/5


  1. I started this one, but I never finished it because it didn't suit my mood at the time. Since then I've read a bit of The Patron Saint of Liars and really enjoy Patchett's writing. I can't help but think maybe I should give Bel Canto another shot.

  2. As you can see I didn't really love it myself. It was nicely written but...I think I might have read a few too many slower books lately!

  3. Hmm, it's a different kind of book then? Good review sweetie, I'll have to keep my eye on this, but I'm still unsure if it's my kind of book to read...but I enjoyed reading your blog about it. =)

  4. The number of reviews on your blog is just amazing!!!

    I liked Bel Canto but I agree with you about the Epliogue. I was so disappointed! Also, I found that some of the characters were sometimes "clich├ęs", but I liked the writing style.