Bel Canto (Ann Patchett)

Bel canto : a novelBel Canto by Ann Patchett
Age: Adult
Genre: Fiction
Source: My Copy
Publisher: Harper, 2001
ISBN: 9780060934417 / 318 pages
Find this book at your local library 

In South America, at the home of the country’s Vice President, a special birthday party is being held for Japanese business man, Mr. Hosokawa. The main event is a special musical performance by operatic star Roxane Coss. But before the night end, a renegade group storms into the home, taking all of the guests hostage. When their initial plans fails, the militia group has to rethink their plan, all the while holding hostage Roxane Coss and all the men of the party for over 4 months. During the time spent in the home, new friendships are forged in the most unlikely of places between the most unlikely of people.

The plot is ridiculously slow-moving, like molasses. It is sort of balanced with Patchett’s eloquent prose. I like the characters, each was unique and special and wholly different from the rest. This book required 2 major suspensions of disbelief, which for me drained the book of much substance. 1. Being held hostage for so long 2. The ending! The ending made me so mad. It was predictable, but the epilogue just took me by shock.

The relationships the hostages made with their captors seemed plausible, very Stockholm syndrome. As a character study, this book excels. In regards to plot…it missed its mark for me. It is a winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award, and I bumped into a gentleman on the bus who said he really enjoyed this book. I still stand firmly in the middle. I didn’t realize it was possible to love the characters and the character development while simultaneously hating the plot and the length of the novel.

2 responses to “Bel Canto (Ann Patchett)

  1. My book club read this one several years ago and we all loved it. We’ve read another of hers, Run, since then and have high praise for that one as well. None of us had problems with the pacing of the plot either. I guess there is some suspension of disbelief involved, certain there is if you don’t believe it, but we all found the relationships between the characters was the point of the novel in the end. That and the fact that even the relationships they form can’t save them from the inevitable conclusion. There really was no other way for the story to conclude.

    Run is a much more down to earth family drama. We’ve not read any others by Patchett at this point, but I expect we will get around to it one day.

  2. I enjoyed reading this review. Please come and visit my review, if you get a chance:

    I was so shocked by the ending in this book. I didn’t expect it to end so abruptly, and brutally. I was almost rereading some lines because I couldn’t believe what was happening, but then again I guess I must have forgotten I was reading about a hostage drama at some point in the book.

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