Sunday, March 27, 2011

Review: Bel Canto

Bell Canto by Ann Patchett
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 318 (paperback)

Back Cover:

Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa.  Roxane Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing.  It is a perfect evening--until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage.  But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different compatriots, intimate friends,  and lovers.

My Rating:

My Review:
This story takes place in a South American country and start at the home of the country's Vice President.  The party is thrown for a Japanese business man and the famous soprano, Roxane Cross.  The Japanese businessman, Katsumi Hosokawa is completely enamored with Ms. Cross and is her biggest fan.  Terrorists soon crash the party and upon learning that the President of the country is not present, they take everyone hostage.

This book is a New York Times Bestseller and I think I chose to read it because it was on Amazon's best of the year list (2001).  The book was well-written and almost magical.  It was very dreamlike and I can only describe it as a piece of art.  It wasn't my cup of tea but I can see how others would love it.  Frankly, I was just bored.  There were two romantic relationships in this story.  Mr. Hosokawa's infatuation with Ms. Cross and his translator's romantic relationship with one of the terrorists.  These relationships weren't so outrageous to be utterly unbelievable, but they were a bit unbelievable.  I walked away feeling like I just didn't get it but I should have.  I think the main problem is that the author creates a very tranquil mood that just doesn't fit the whole "I've been taking hostage by terrorists" thing.

To each its own.  I recommend this book for people who enjoy good writing for good writing's sake.  It is truly well-crafted and thoughtful.

I recognize that this is a good book but I just didn't connect.  Does this ever happen to you?  How do you review books like this?  Have you read this book?  What did you think?
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