Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Title: Bel Canto
Author: Ann Patchett
Genre: fiction
Length: 318 pages
Borrowed from library
Rating: 2/5
read for RBC discussion

Amazon.com description of the book

In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

Among the hostages are not only Hosokawa and Roxane Coss, the American soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Reuben Iglesias, the diminutive and gracious vice president, quickly gets sideways of the kidnappers, who have no interest in him whatsoever. Meanwhile, a Swiss Red Cross negotiator named Joachim Messner is roped into service while vacationing. He comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands, and the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.

It took me awhile to finally finish this book, but I finally made it. I was busier with student teaching than I thought I would be. I have to be honest when I say that I didn’t really care much for this book. I don’t know what exactly I had anticipated, but I think I was expecting more of an action-packed hostage situation rather than the dull one that was actually written. There were parts of this book that were just beautiful and I commend Patchett’s writing abilities. I especially liked the ending, as far as writing goes–it was a bit sad and I hadn’t really seen it coming. I also hadn’t really seen some of the couples that formed.

As I disliked the epilogue in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I disliked this epilogue. I would have liked this book more if I hadn’t read the epilogue–I know that epilogues aren’t required, but if I had seen any of what was coming in the epilogue, I wouldn’t have read it. I just felt it was a bad add-on, especially considering what the last couple of chapters of the book displayed.

I wouldn’t recommend this highly, or if I did I would advise that it doesn’t have as much action as one might expect from a hostage situation.

Next book to read: The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig

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2 thoughts on “Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

  1. I’ve heard some mixed reviews about this book as well. I do have a copy, but I think i’ll wait to read it.

  2. Michelle says:

    I’m not an epilogue fan either. Kind of glad I skipped this RBC book after reading your review.

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