Monday, August 15, 2011
Book Review: Bel Canto
Bel Canto (Harper Perennial) by Ann Patchett held me captive from beginning to end. And being held captive is what this book is all about.
A prestigious party is being held at the home of a Vice President somewhere in South America. The occasion is a birthday party honoring Mr.Kosokawa, a powerful businessman from Japan. The famous opera soprano, Roxane Coss, has enthralled the international guests with her singing. It’s a grand event–until terrorists take the entire party hostage.
From the beginning, the take-over goes awry. The target being sought, the President of the country, isn’t in attendance. This causes great confusion among the three generals leading a gang of gun-wielding youths.
Nothing goes according to plan, but life goes on. From a panicked, life-threatening situation, people fall into a routine. They connect, cooperate, form bonds, friendships, even fall in love.
This is a marvelous, entertaining book, a New York Times Bestseller and winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award. For me, it hit a profound chord. When my husband and I were with the Peace Corps in The Gambia, West Africa, we were “detained” in a single house for 8 days, along with 118 people from many different countries. This book brought back vivid memories of that attempted military coup.
I highly recommend Bel Canto. You’ll find yourself bunking in with the rest of the house guests.