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.

6 comments:

Kathleen Ernst said...

I loved this book as well. Unusual, unpredictable, and very well written.

Bonnie MacPhail said...

Yes, this book is one of my favorites. I was totally engaged with the characters. It is based on true happenings. The president was finally tried a committed for human rights abuse.

Heidiwriter said...

I really liked this book too. Excellent story and writing.

Eunice Boeve said...

Sounds like a great story. I'll have to check it out. Have you read the Help? I read it last year and just last week saw the movie. Excellent!

A.D. said...

I enjoyed this book immensely, too. Similar to your experience, I was in Nigeria during a coup and this book had resonances for me. A great choice!

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