Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

September 21, 2015 Audio Books, Contemporary Fiction 15

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

How was your weekend? Mine was lovely, especially considering I was NOT taken hostage during a swanky birthday party by an ill advised army of teenagers in an unnamed South American country. Obviously, things are going better for me than the characters in my latest read, Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. This is one of those books I’ve been hearing about for a long time but took ages to get around to reading (well, listening to, in this case). Just another example of how I’ll never ever get to all the excellent books worth reading in the world. Siiiiigh.

belcantoAs I started saying earlier, this book takes place in an unnamed South American country. In an attempt to bring commerce to the blighted region, the government has arranged an elaborate birthday party for a Japanese business man in order to lure him into building a factory. The government has managed to land Roxane Coss, opera soprano of international acclaim, to perform for Mr. Hosokawa, a noted opera aficianado.

The party is crashed soon after Roxane’s performance by a ragtag army of 18 terrorists consisting largely of impoverished teenagers. Their goal was to kidnap the president, but when it turns out he is not in attendance, they take the entire birthday party full of international dignitaries hostage. Improvisation is not their strong suit. As the relatively simple goal of the terrorists is complicated by unanticipated captives, the group’s quick operation turns into a drawn out standoff.

You guyssssssssss. This book was really good. It sounds like a majorly insane downer, but it was fascinating! As time goes on, the hostages and the terrorists begin to bond in unexpected ways. It’s not Stockholm Syndrome or anything, because nobody’s been brainwashed, but it’s awfully hard to spend a large amount of time with anyone and fail to see them as individuals. I mean, the terrorists aren’t torturing or killing or maiming. They’re just forcibly detaining… With varying levels of enthusiasm. If this has been on your radar in the history of ever, if you like opera, or if you just like excellent messy moral dilemma stories, check out Bel Canto

Talk to me Bookworms! What is the WORST experience you’ve ever had at a party?

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15 Responses to “Bel Canto by Ann Patchett”

  1. Lindsey

    One of my all time favorites, but it’s kind of hard to describe, isn’t it??”It’s about politics. No, opera. Actually, class differences. No, about what it means to be human…”

    I am going to read Ann Patchett’s Truth and Beauty this week. It’s the last of her books I haven’t read yet, so I am excited and also a little sad!

  2. ThatAshGirl

    When I was in University and working at the bookstore everyone was talking about this book but it just never spoke to me! It might be one of those books that is great, just doesn’t show itself very well in the description.

    • Dana

      A group of friends in a book club I was once a member of read and loved Bel Canto. Like you, I also never really was inspired to read it based on the description. I later read Truth and Beauty and had a very mixed reaction to it. I’m keeping Bel Canto on my ‘Maybe’ list.

  3. Michelle

    I listened to this one too and thought it was great. I don’t think I would have felt the same way had I read it though. There was something about listening to the narrative that made it much easier to develop empathy for the characters.

  4. Jill

    I read this a couple of years ago and really loved it. It was quite unexpected the way it moved in with me. I sat with it’s presence for a long while….

  5. Rhian

    Besides being an interesting premise, what I felt elevated this story was the language – it is beautiful. Lyrical or poetic or something, it lifts otherwise mundane scenes.

    I really, really wish someone I know IRL would read this because I’m dying to talk about it without worrying about spoiling someone.

    I also enjoyed State of Wonder by Ms Patchett. Reading reviews online, it seems some people found it too slow, but I think languid is a better description and totally reflected the mood within the story.

    Based on two books, I would say Ms Patchett is a master of language and I am looking forward to reading the rest of her work.

  6. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    I picked this up at a library sale and have yet to read it. I did read Patchett’s State of Wonder and I thought it was good, but didn’t feel very connected to the story. The writing was beautiful enough that I’m sure I will be picking up Bel Canto too though 🙂

  7. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Okay this is actually very convincing. I’ve read one of Ann Patchett’s book and quite liked it, started another one and absolutely hated it, and I have since had mixed feelings about trying her again. But this sounds very good. I have had very regular party experiences, the worst thing being probably an awkward conversation or two.

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